Kristin Watkins & Paul Garrahan
Community colleges have more capacity to affect social change in our country than any other public institution. They provide a path to a college degree (the single most important determinant for economic prosperity and good health) to the largest group of people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it. But they receive a tiny amount of philanthropic resources relative to elite higher ed institutions. If we want to change that, we must be champions of opportunity.
I worked at PCC for 16 years. For half that time I served as the Associate Vice President for College Advancement and the Executive Officer of the PCC Foundation. Working with PCC President Preston Pulliams and the Foundation Board, we elevated the role of private philanthropy and significantly increased its impact on students. I was integrally involved in the creation of the Future Connect program — a public-private partnership supporting first-generation college students in the Portland area. Nearly 10 years after its creation, Future Connect is still going strong and has supported 2,700 students. As I reflect on my career, Future Connect is undoubtedly one of my proudest accomplishment.