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PCC’s Future Connect Program celebrates success, spreads its reach
Photos and Story by James Hill
There are 1.3 million reasons why the Future Connect Scholarship Program’s own future is looking bright.
The PCC Foundation-funded program that breaks down barriers to college for low-income, first-generation students was awarded a $1.3 million grant from the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission to broaden the reach and impact of its services in the Portland area. The money is part of the statewide initiative HB 3063 (“Aspirations to College”), which recently disbursed $3 million to similar community college programs throughout the state.
“This grant will help us expand and deepen services to students across all PCC campuses,” said Links Program Director Pam Blumenthal. “We also look forward to collaborating with other community colleges across Oregon who are implementing similar programs.”
The funds will help the Foundation broaden the reach and impact of Future Connect by providing nearly 3,000 students with critical services and support. This includes 480 new students being able to access coaching, instruction and transfer assistance as result of the new money. And, program staff can provide outreach services to more than 2,500 high school students residing within PCC’s service area.
Besides growing the number of students served, Future Connect staff will increase from eight to 13 by the end of the summer. The new staff include college success, recruitment and transfer program coordinators, and a data analyst.
“The Future Connect team is excited about how the grant will positively impact our capacity to serve students better, earlier and further into their college careers,” said Josh Laurie, PCC Future Connect manager.
In addition, some of the grant money will go toward bolstering other college programs that serve similar student groups. These include PCC’s Fostering Success and Project DEgree programs, as well as funds for the purchase of 47 laptops available for check-out by all PCC students at college libraries.
Celebrating its fifth anniversary, the Future Connect Program has had 1,200 students come through its doors. Thanks to contributions from the cities of Portland, Beaverton and Hillsboro and donors, the program is thriving. Future Connect provides scholarships, in-depth advising and college success coaching to low-income and first-generation students so they have a guided path through college, all the way to completion of a certificate or degree.
To mark its five years, Future Connect leaders will pursue an external evaluation of the program to measure its impact and to determine areas of improvement. It will also work with the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development and other state agencies to collaborate with the other eight community colleges who received funds through HB 3063 and learn more about how they are implementing their resources.