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PCC Foundation matches big Miller challenge

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The Portland Community College Foundation has raised more than $1 million for scholarships, matching a challenge set forth by the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

The Miller Foundation challenged all 17 of Oregon’s community colleges to raise more money for student scholarships. By raising $1,032,064, the PCC Foundation will get an extra $320,000 in matching contributions from Miller.

“This is an amazing accomplishment,” said PCC President Preston Pulliams. “This will go a very long way toward our philosophy of access for everyone who wants a college education. In such tough economic times, the generosity displayed here is stunning.”

The PCC Foundation was able to match the challenge thanks to some recent gifts:

• The late Virginia and Lee Finders established a memorial scholarship fund in the name of their son Joseph in the amount of $300,000. An additional memorial scholarship in the name of another son, Robert, will be established later this year. These two scholarships, a total of $600,000, is the largest-ever individual gift to the Foundation. The late Virginia Finders was a math instructor at the PCC Cascade Campus and her husband, Lee, was an attorney.

• The Oregon Community Foundation’s North Coast Leadership Council has announced a $25,000 grant to the Portland Community College Foundation for scholarships. The gift is part of OCF’s Regional Action Initiative.

The PCC Foundation typically hands out more than 300 scholarships every year, but that number could double because of the successful campaign. Almost half of PCC students need financial help to attend college. Many students work full-time, support families and try to make ends meet. According to the Financial Aid department at the college, PCC is experiencing the largest increase in financial aid requests ever with the number of applications rocketing up by 23.3 percent this term compared to the same time last year.

“The donors’ generous giving opened the door of opportunity for our students, which allowed them to see the possibility of using education to build pathways to better their lives and the community,” said Rick Zurow, executive director of the PCC Foundation. “This is the optimal pay-it-forward plan; where each donation is rewarded by the Miller Foundation match and simultaneously builds a stronger community for all of us.”

The 2009-10 application period started March 16 for the Foundation and it expects to receive twice as many applications for the upcoming school year than last year. The PCC Foundation distributed more than $415,000 for scholarships during 2007-08; this funded 327 scholarships. Another 400-plus qualified scholarship applicants were turned away due to lack of funds.

The PCC Foundation is the private fund-raising arm for the college. Members of the community who believe in the mission and the value of PCC serve on the PCC Foundation Board to guide its activities and investments. The foundation is a tax-exempt, charitable organization, meaning that donations are tax-deductible. For more information about the PCC Foundation visit, or call (503) 977-4382.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »


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