The California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office has announced a $100 million commitment from the Jay Pritzker Foundation in support of efforts to eliminate regional educational gaps in the state over the next twenty years.
The gift to the Foundation for California Community Colleges (FoundationCCC) — the largest commitment ever in support of U.S. community colleges — will fund scholarships for students who are well on their way to completing a certificate or degree at a community college or are in the process of transferring to a four-year institution, as well as emergency financial aid for students experiencing unexpected financial hardship. For the first five years, FoundationCCC will provide grants to thirty-four community colleges in the three regions in the state with the lowest percentage of adults with college degrees: the Inland Empire, the Central Valley, and the Far North.
Due to the unexpected impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on students in the state, 100 percent of this year's grants, up to $150,000 per college, may be used to provide students with emergency financial aid. In future years, colleges may use their grants to provide a combination of emergency financial aid and scholarships of up to $18,500 per student per year to cover tuition as well as expenses such as textbooks, instructional materials, transportation, housing, child care, and food.
"Many community college students have difficulty affording basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and child care," said the foundation's president, Dan Pritzker. "The Jay Pritzker Foundation grant is meant to serve those most in need who have the drive to succeed. Community colleges provide equal opportunity to pursue high quality education without incurring crushing debt. We believe education is the key to preserving our democracy and hope others will join in supporting community colleges across the country."