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Future Connect celebrates second round of scholars
Photos and Story by James Hill
Mayor Sam Adams and Portland Community College District President Preston Pulliams handed out 200 college scholarships to brand new high school graduates.
The awards, given to the students this summer at Portland State University through the Future Connect Program, are on top of the 150 such scholarships awarded to the first-ever class last summer. View the ceremony’s photo gallery.
Afterward, Mayor Adams, President Pulliams and Portland State University President Wim Wiewel signed an agreement establishing a partnership between PSU and Future Connect scholars, which will allow them to continue on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Portland State. A similar agreement with Lewis & Clark College is being planned, according to the city.
“We continue to grow and grow this effort every year,” said Mayor Adams to the gathered students. “This is our second year of actually being able to award scholarships and we have a waiting list. With more local youth successfully going on and getting college or advanced skills training, this city will be more successful, and this county and region will be more successful as well.”
Future Connect is a scholarship program that’s a partnership between Portland Community College, City of Portland and the community. It targets low-income, first-generation college students that have shown promise for succeeding in college, but face barriers to success. In addition to the scholarship, they meet with a college success coach that will help them overcome obstacles and stay in school. Donations to the PCC Foundation (and to Clackamas and Mt. Hood community colleges) fund these scholarships and the City of Portland doubles all gifts as part of a matching challenge of up to $380,000 each year to support the program.
“Without the Mayor or the City Council’s support this could not have happened,” Pulliams said. “Because they started this whole thing by putting the money on the table, we worked really hard to match that. We’re in this for the long term.”
Mayor Adams said that for every one percent that gets an associate or bachelor’s degree it translates into $1.6 billion for the local economy over time. “In order to do that we need more economic success and that’s about your individual economic success,” the Mayor told the students.
In fall 2011, Future Connect welcomed its first class to PCC. Of these 150 students, 75 percent are students of color and 95 percent are the first in their families to go to college.
“Everyone’s sole purpose is to see everybody succeed,” said single parent Sofia Herrera, who is that first class. She graduated from Helensview High School and plans to become a nurse.
“Everyone has gone through some barrier in life to graduate from high school. It was hard and they really are there to help you succeed with everything,” she added.
The PCC Foundation is taking donations to continue building the Future Connect Scholarship Program for future students.