The foundation is seeking donations now more than ever to help struggling students
VANCOUVER — The Clark College Foundation is presently in crisis mode, much like so many others during this coronavirus pandemic. More unique to the foundation, however, is its goal of providing for people in a very specific predicament: students without a school.
With the closures, Clark College moved to an online format several weeks ago, and last week began receiving $5.2 million in federal stimulus money as part of the CARES Act, but many students are still in need of scholarships, and more.
While the online format allows for social distancing and reduces transmission risk of the COVID-19 virus, it also leaves many students with no way to learn. If a student is without a computer or internet access apart from campus, they are unable to continue their coursework or access their classes.
Clark College Foundation CEO Lisa Gibert addressed these issues in a video statement and several foundation newsletters last week.
“It was probably about a month ago now that we woke up and the world had completely changed. Here at Clark College, we’re having to make those adjustments also,” Gibert said. “For so many of us, we don’t think about simple things like access to a computer or the internet. So right now we’re actually working with students to make sure they can have access to these absolutely important vehicles so they can take online classes that will be offered in the spring.”
Gibert wrote to patrons last week that only half of the aforementioned $5.2 million goes to Clark’s more than 6,000 current full-time students. The rest is allocated for other pandemic-related needs the college may have. In this vein, she asked that donors and those who may be interested in donating do so as much as they can.
There are three main areas that donations will go to right now. One is flexible scholarships to “give Clark College options for providing tuition support in less restrictive ways.” The hope is to reduce students from dropping out due to unforeseen costs.
“These are flexible dollars that will allow the college to distribute the funds to students regardless of their programmatic areas,” she said.
The second way funds will be used is for the Clark College Emergency Fund. This fund is very versatile and helps purchase food, pay medical bills and provide childcare for Clark students.
“As you can imagine, a student may just be a car wreck or broken glasses away from throwing up their hands and saying, ‘I quit. I’m just not doing this anymore,’” Gibert said. “We want to make sure to interrupt that and get back to them and let them know we’re there for them and we will help them through this.”
The third is donations to the foundation’s Greatest Need Fund. The fund is a specific donation portal, and is always allocated for more fluid expenditures during long term realities, such as the pandemic.
The Promising Pathways campaign created by the foundation is the $35 million masterplan which contains all of the funds and strategies mentioned above. The campaign will continue, though in a modified way to better meet current needs, Gibert said.
“Our Greatest Needs Fund will allow the flexibility that the college and the foundation can use in order to make sure that the dollars get into the areas that need it the most at the current time,” Gibert said. “So stay home, stay healthy, and I look forward to the day that we can welcome you back to campus.”