Clark College Foundation officials announced this week that they have raised $17 million toward their $20 million "Ensuring a Bright Future" campaign. We commend the Foundation for its well-researched, aggressive fundraising drive and offer the following reasons why you should consider contributing:
You appreciate the fact that Clark College, through its foundation, has taken a proactive approach to solving its own financial challenges.
You understand the need to respond to the double-whammy punches in recent years of reduced state funding and rising tuition.
You know that the Olympia funding fountain has been severely constricted. Legislative support of Clark College in recent years has dwindled from 62 percent of the operating budget to 42 percent. As the Foundation notes on its website: "Instead of being state supported, Clark is now state assisted."
You realize that Clark College is more affordable to more students than typical four-year universities. Keith Koplan wrote in an online comment beneath a Thursday Columbian story: "As a long time member and supporter of the Clark College Foundation, I can say that Clark College offers the most affordable opportunity for higher education in the entire area. It opens the door for people of all ages to better themselves with education."
You see Koplan's "people of all ages" concept as influential throughout a person's lifetime. Years ago, as a former teacher in Oregon, Jan Oliva needed Clark College for a state history class in order to attain her Washington teaching certificate. Years later, her 3-year-old attended the college's preschool program. "Now I can take Mature Learning classes," she explains. And that's not all. Oliva also is helping lead the fundraising campaign. She and husband Steve helped fund Clark College's Oliva Early Learning Center. Clearly, Clark College has had a continuing impact on the Oliva family.
You sympathize with students who have been burdened by soaring tuition in recent years. You know those increases have forced a sharp rise in student debt, and you like the idea of increasing financial assistance.
You correctly view the fundraising campaign as improving virtually the entire campus: scholarships, health programs, science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, the Firstenburg Family Dental Hygiene Education and Care Center, and the college's STEM (science, technology, education and math) program.
You like the idea of people earning more money, and you know that workers with associate degrees such as those offered at Clark College earn 37 percent more than those with just a high school diploma, and more than double what is earned by those without a high school diploma.
You respect Clark's role in our community and region. You know that 90 percent of the college's students remain in the region and contribute in many ways to the high quality of life.
You realize that the college plays a huge role in local business, providing workforce training for numerous types of companies.
You know that higher education is even more important in tough economic times, evidenced by the fact that Clark College was opened during the Great Depression.
Visit the foundation's website and consider helping make one of our community's greatest assets even stronger.