The official kick-off of Portland Community College’s Future Connect Scholarship Program in Washington County attracted nearly 100 students from Beaverton and Hillsboro that started in the program this fall.
The late October event at the Rock Creek Campus was led by students, staff, faculty, and PCC administrators Birgitte Ryslinge, the Rock Creek Campus interim president, and Jeremy Brown, PCC’s president. Additionally, several local dignitaries attended or participated, including Aron Carleson, Hillsboro City Council president; Marc San Soucie, Beaverton City Councilor; Rep. Joe Gallegos; and Deanna Palm, president, Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce and PCC elected board member.
The Future Connect scholarship program is geared to high school students who have identified as being the first in their families to attend college or who are low-income. The City of Beaverton and the City of Hillsboro has each earmarked $100,000 in city funds to support Future Connect. Each city’s grant will be matched with funding raised by the college and the PCC Foundation and be put toward scholarships for the program. Additionally, the Meyer Memorial Trust also has agreed to match donations to Future Connect.
Students in attendance proudly shared their stories and excitement at being part of Washington County’s first Future Connect cohort.
“My family’s standard has been to graduate from high school and then look for work or in the case of my cousin, join the military,” said Christopher Ramos, a 2013 graduate from Beaverton High School who now attends PCC as a Future Connect scholar. He is interested in pursuing nursing as a career.
“I’m the first in my family to attend college. I’m looking to raise the standard, to improve my life by going to college, which will create more opportunities for me in the future,” added Ramos.
Students receive a Future Connect scholarship to attend PCC that also provides two years of individualized academic advising, career-guidance classes, and access to tutoring, cohort support and personalized coaching. Collectively, this contributes to the high student success rate: Future Connect students in solid academic standing are retained at rates three times higher than similar students who don’t receive the specialized services that Future Connect offers.
“These are remarkable statistics,” said PCC President Brown, who spoke at the event. “Education changes lives. If Future Connect can help to retain students so that they complete their studies and continue on to four-year institutions, or go directly into the workforce after their time at PCC, research shows that they will be much more likely to succeed professionally long term.”
Future Connect first launched in 2011 in Multnomah County with funding from the City of Portland, matched by PCC and private funds raised by the PCC Foundation. The program now serves more than 340 Multnomah County students representing 28 schools. More than $1.1 million in private funds have been raised for the first four cohorts of Future Connect in Multnomah County, and three cohorts of students have been fully funded.
“Now – thanks to support from the Cities of Hillsboro and Beaverton – PCC is able to create this kind of dynamic here in Washington County,” said Brown.