Winter 2008 |
A November Associated Press article addressed the recent attention to
community colleges, focusing on the community college resources (or lack
thereof ). Several prominent philanthropic foundations have announced major
gifts to community colleges, including the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation´s gift of up to a half billion dollars on a college
completion program over the next four years. Other foundations focusing on
community colleges and their students have equally familiar names: Lumina,
Kellogg and Ford have all gifted community colleges recently.
"At MCC, we have experienced significant enrollment growth over the
last several years, putting positive stress on departments and programs to
expand services and outreach to more students every year. Meanwhile, state
budgets have tightened, and our leaders have had to make difficult decisions
about how to allocate finite resources," said Pat Crisler, associate vice
president of development.
"As an institution, we continue to value our ability to be responsive
to the changing needs of our students, the regional workforce and our
communities. The net effect is that innovation, new programs and growth may
not be immediately fundable through normal means; rather, external resources
are needed to enable us to meet the needs of our stakeholders."
With the economic downturn, the chances of community college funding being
cut increase, making grants and gifts even more vital—and more
MCC receives private, federal and state grants each year to fund projects
and initiatives that meet changing student and community needs. The proactive
grant process begins with an idea that meets one of these clear needs. The
idea is submitted to the Grants Office, where it is reviewed in relation to
the College´s mission, strategic initiatives and funding potential. The
idea then gets discussed and developed, including finding a funder if the idea
isn´t in response to an existing request for proposals.
Once the concept is refined, a proposal overview form is submitted and
reviewed at the cabinet level. Any further development is a collaborative
effort between the Grants Office and the person or people who originated the
idea. The final proposal is submitted and the president, as the authorized
representative of the College, will receive notification as to whether the
proposal was approved and will be funded.
Generally, grant ideas support the College´s mission in resource
development, learning spaces, student achievement and success,
student-centered services/student focus, information access/communication and
employee achievement. Many of the innovative projects currently in progress at
Metropolitan Community College are grant funded, including the MCC Cares
Service Learning Project, Community-Based Job Training Grant and the Access to
a College Education program.
Crisler said that some grants support students in ways that no other
assistance can. For example, high school students who enroll in dual credit
classes (which offer high school and college credit concurrently) are not
eligible for federal financial aid. In addition, a recent study found that more
than 40 percent of interested students at local high schools could not
participate in dual credit opportunities because of the associated costs.
Thanks to grants from local foundations, MCC is able to offer dual credit
tuition assistance, so more students can get a jumpstart on successful college
"Grant projects, funded or not, often serve as wonderful creative
tools that catalyze groups to envision new ways of providing services and
better ways of working together," Crisler said. "No matter what the
outcome of the funding decision may be, there is almost always something
positive that comes from bringing creative minds together to identify
solutions to collective problems."