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PCC Foundation to host an out of this world gala
Photos and Story by Kate Chester
The Portland Community College Foundation is aiming for a “mission accomplished” proclamation when its fourth annual fundraising gala “lifts off” Friday, April 10.
Set to take place at Pure Space (1035 N.W. Overton, Portland), this year’s event – Lunar Landing: A Space Age Gala – begins with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the program and dinner from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Annually, the gala attracts approximately 500 attendees from higher education, business and industry, as well as local elected officials, students, staff, faculty and alumni.
This year’s retro, space theme underscores the era in which PCC first opened its doors in 1961. But the theme also serves as a metaphor for what is possible, according to Mary Kalafatis, managing director of PCC’s Foundation.
“There was time, before 1969, when we didn’t think a human could land on the moon – and we accomplished that. Similarly, there are students who don’t have the money to attend college, making the idea of college outside their reach,” said Kalafatis.
“The PCC Foundation can turn that around by raising funds for student scholarships at the annual gala. Thanks to the generosity of many, attending college becomes a viable possibility for students in need,” she said.
Last year the fundraiser raised more than $300,000 for scholarships and student success initiatives, enabling hundreds of PCC students – many being the first in their families to attend college, and with deep financial need – to be supported in their academic pursuits. Since it began in 2012, the gala has raised nearly $1 million in financial support for more than 800 PCC scholars.
More than $100,000 already has been secured in sponsorships for this year’s event from such allies as NW Natural, Intel Corporation, Vigor Industrial, and Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, LLP, among many others.
“Thanks to the deep generosity of our friends and supporters, the PCC Foundation is able to create life-changing opportunities for students,” said Kimberly Cooper, PCC Foundation board chair.
The gala’s mission is both serious and meaningful – and fun. Junki and Linda Yoshida, founders of locally based Yoshida Foods International and avid proponents for community colleges, will again serve as the soiree’s honorary co-chairs, infusing their energy and wit into the overall program. Attendees are encouraged to wear 1960s attire, and music will be provided by WaveSauce – a local band described as “inspired by the sounds of ocean surf, space-age science and technology, classic horror, and 1960s spy films.”
A pillar of the event is the celebration of the PCC Patron Award. This year’s recipients are Irving Levin and Stephanie Fowler of The Renaissance Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that creates educational opportunities, in part for first-generation, low-income students.
The Patron Award honors a person or organization that has made a significant contribution to PCC to ensure access to education for students. Through The Renaissance Foundation, Levin and Fowler support PCC’s Future Connect Scholarship Program with advising “wraparound services” for Future Connect students, also called Renaissance Scholars. Additionally, The Renaissance Foundation is backing a new student mentoring program at PCC’s Cascade Campus. The Cascade African American Men’s Scholar Project matches 10 mentors and 30 students, providing a paid leadership experience. Those who complete the program are eligible for transfer scholarships or the opportunity to apply for them.
“The support and investment of The Renaissance Foundation in PCC students, especially those in need of financial assistance the most, goes straight to the College’s mission of creating access,” said Jeremy Brown, president of Portland Community College.
“We could not have chosen a more deserving recipient for this year’s Patron Award honors,” he said.