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‘Aspirations to College’ legislation signed by governor, funds Future Connect
Photos and Story by James Hill
It’s not every day that Portland Community College is front and center in the Oregon governor’s ceremonial office.
But it was and for a good reason.
In September, Gov. Kate Brown invited PCC Future Connect Scholarship Program supporters, including Interim President Sylvia Kelley, Board Trustee Jim Harper, Sylvania Campus President Lisa Avery and more, to her ornate ceremonial office in the Capitol Building in Salem. Gov. Brown signed House Bill 3063, or known as “Aspirations to College” and is based on PCC’s Future Connect model, to wild applause from the contingent.
The governor met with all of the college’s Future Connect student representatives, shook their hands and asked about their stories. She then took her seat and signed the bill.
“I’m very pleased to be signing this bill,” said Gov. Brown as she put pen to paper.
Two champions of the legislation, Rep. Joe Gallegos and Rep. Tobias Read, were on hand for the signing.
“This is a monumental bill and it builds on the programs so successful in Portland, Beaverton and Hillsboro,” Rep. Gallegos said. “We heard they are having 80-90 percent success rate with this program. What is exciting is that it really builds on private and public partnerships, such as Intel in my district, which is a really big player.”
The law appropriates $3 million to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to be expended for a grant program that distributes the funds to community colleges, or any foundations of community colleges. The colleges and foundations would use the funds to increase the number of underserved, low-income and first-generation college-bound students who enroll in community college and make progress toward a degree or certificate. For the PCC Foundation, that means its Future Connect Program will get a funding boost for years to come.
PCC’s Future Connect Scholarship Program began in the PCC Foundation in 2011 with the City of Portland. In addition to a scholarship, Future Connect students get intensive advising and student support as they progress toward their educational goals. This includes having their own college success coach and tapping into career guidance services, job and internship resources and many enrichment activities. It targets low-income, first-generation college students that have shown promise for succeeding in college, but face barriers to success.
Once Future Connect took hold in Portland, the PCC Foundation developed similar partnerships with Hillsboro and Beaverton to assist students from those districts. The ceremony in the governor’s office was confirmation of the success the program at PCC and the state’s dedication towards serving community college students.“The signing ceremony was a great recognition of the success of Future Connect and the legislature’s commitment to expanding student support to first-generation and low-income community college students around the state,” said Meghan Moyer, PCC’s director of Government Relations.