Originally Published: December 3, 2015 6 a.m.
"Community colleges are potentially the most transformative institution in contemporary America.... [C]ommunity colleges are the driving force in connecting so many needs of the community with the resources that can help propel and drive not only workforce development but economic development."
- Dr. DeRionne Pollard, president of Montgomery College, at a recent Brookings Institution event
Much as community colleges such as Yavapai College are the "driving force" to economic development, so, too, is the Yavapai College Foundation the "driving force" connecting many needy Yavapai County students to their community college.
Since its inception, the Yavapai College Foundation has worked to benefit, support and enhance the mission of the Yavapai College. Established in 1969, the Foundation serves as the College's official fundraising entity. In this role, the Foundation programs and services are aligned strategically with College needs and priorities. Relationships with key constituents continue to grow stronger, and new fundraising opportunities are being evaluated with a keener eye on ensuring the appropriate balance of cost-of-fundraising, endowment growth and mission impact.
$1,305,768 in Direct Support
Each year, the Foundation pursues philanthropic and grant funds to support and accelerate a number of priorities identified by Yavapai College, such as scholarship awards, capital projects and special projects. In the last fiscal year, the Yavapai College Foundation provided more than $1.3 million in direct support of the college and since 2012, YCF has supplied $3.86 million to a multitude of college priorities.
Almost 1,000 individuals, couples and families in our communities make gifts to YCF each year. Some gifts are as small as $5, while others are much larger. For example YCF Board President Perry Massie and his wife, Sandy, donated $210,000 last year to fund two endowed student scholarships, one of which is designed to continue support for "littles" who are aging out of their relationships with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Responding to the Need
When unplanned opportunities arise, the Yavapai College Foundation is able to be nimble and marshal the necessary resources needed to meet the need.
One such example occurred earlier this year when Yavapai College sought to pilot a new program which would give 29 recent high school grads a unique, free opportunity to get a head start on college life and earn college credits over the summer. Providing more than $66,000 in direct support, YCF responded promptly with the financial support needed to launch the Lead program designed to remove barriers to postsecondary education faced by disadvantaged students. Lead successfully enrolled 29 students over the summer; 27 completed the program and 23 enrolled at Yavapai College for the fall 2015 semester.
As Lead participant Cynthia Gardner told us, "The Lead program helped me become more confident and learn to believe in myself. The program really prepared me for the fall."
Steve Walker is the vice president of advancement for Yavapai College and the executive director of the Yavapai