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PCC presents update on Future Connect at City Council meeting
Photos and Story by James Hill
Victoria Rodriguez attributes her success at PCC to a collaboration between the college and the City of Portland’s Future Connect initiative.
“What this program has done for me is beyond words,” Rodriguez said.
Future Connect Program at PCC started last summer to eliminate barriers to attending college while providing on-going support to help students once they get there. With support from the City of Portland and donations to the PCC Foundation, students receive scholarship support and dedicated coaching to earn a degree at PCC.
“This has been a passionate group of champions for the city, stepping up its partnerships and helping to ensure that all Portlanders succeed,” said Mayor Sam Adams about his education partners.
On Wednesday, Feb. 1, Josh Laurie (Future Connect manager), Preston Pulliams (PCC’s district president) and Rodriguez gave testimony to the Portland City Council on how Future Connect at PCC is doing. Pulliams reported that the PCC Foundation has raised more than $460,000 in scholarship support to help match the City’s $360,000 investment.
“We are succeeding,” Pulliams said. “Thank you very much for being a part of the collaboration and the engagement in terms of being very supportive with the funds provided.”
Laurie told the council that 130 students are enrolled in Future Connect with 70 percent being students of color and more than 90 percent are first-generation college students. He added that 87 percent of the students have moved on to winter term compared to 72 percent for the general community college population. Several times Adams paused the presentation to applaud the statistics and the students in the gallery.
“We feel lucky to work with each of these students,” Laurie said. “And we feel it’s a unique approach. We’re working on outreach efforts with all of the Multnomah County high schools and have already touch based with 400 students to help begin this early process of engagement.”
That approach has paid off for students like Rodriguez, who said the program’s support helped her stick with college.
“When I was halfway through high school and felt college would never happen,” she told city councilors. “What if I failed and what if I couldn’t make my mom proud? I came across the Future Connect Scholarship and said ‘Why not, I might have a chance.’ And when I received the e-mail from the program saying I’d been accepted I finally felt I was on my way.”