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$70 Million Gift Going To State’s Community Colleges

Money will help provide scholarships for students at COC and others.


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced an unprecedented commitment of $70 million from the Bernard Osher Foundation to support private scholarships for California's community college students. The commitment is made as part of the Osher Initiative for CCC students and represents the single largest gift to a community college system in the nation and one of the largest gifts ever made to higher education.

"I am pleased to announce this historic gift by the Bernard Osher Foundation that will help thousands of our state's community college students succeed each year," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "I know firsthand the incredible value of community colleges from my time at Santa Monica College. They serve a vital role in preparing our workforce, and this gift will provide innumerable benefits to our state's economy and diverse communities."

The Osher Initiative includes two separate monetary commitments that will assist students with $1,000 scholarships at each of California's 109 community colleges. A $50 million gift will support endowed annual scholarships at CCCs, $25 million of which is forthcoming immediately to fund an endowment managed by the Foundation for California Community Colleges (FCCC).

The remaining $25 million will be contributed to the endowment on a two-to-one match. The FCCC will lead a joint effort with the CCC System Office and state's community colleges to raise a matching $50 million over a three-year period. The resulting $100 million endowment will serve as a permanent fund for annual student scholarships, offering a long-term solution to the rising costs of books, supplies and equipment that often hinder many students from completing their education. Once the endowment is fully funded, it is expected that at least 5,000 scholarships will be awarded annually with that number continuing to grow each year.

In addition to the $50 million gift, the Osher Initiative provides $20 million to support endowed scholarship programs at California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) campuses that do not currently have Osher scholarship programs in place. These scholarship programs will be for community college students transferring to the CSU and UC campuses.

"Bernard and Barbro Osher and the Osher Foundation's trustees are making this gift to underscore the importance of our nation's community colleges, to help address persistent financial needs and to encourage private philanthropy to support these institutions," said Mary Bitterman, President of the Bernard Osher Foundation.

"We are all overjoyed about this historic and unprecedented gift to the California Community Colleges," said California Community Colleges Chancellor Diane Woodruff. "The Osher scholarships will provide much needed financial support to many of our students who may not otherwise be able to complete their studies." 

There are more than 2.6 million students enrolled in CCCs, making it the largest higher education system in the nation. Community colleges enroll the state's lowest income students-full time students have an annual median income of $16,223 and one-fourth of those students have incomes of less than $5,544 per year.

CCCs are also among the most affordable higher education systems. At $20 per unit, student fees at California's community colleges are currently the lowest in the nation-just 24 percent of the national average.

Community colleges are a gateway to California's four-year universities. Sixty percent of CSU and 30 percent of UC graduates are community college transfers. They are also a leading provider of job training and career tech education. Eighty percent of firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians are credentialed at community colleges, and seventy percent of the nurses in California received their education from community colleges.

$70 Million Gift Going To State’s Community Colleges

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