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This content was published: June 17, 2020. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

Future Connect receives state funding to serve more under-represented students

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Future connect students celebrate.

Future Connect students pose with State Treasurer Tobias Read.

The State of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) has awarded the Portland Community College Foundation a one-year, $413,910 grant to support under-served students.

The grant funds the Future Connect Scholarship Program for incoming high school students who identify as first-generation or low-income. It supports efforts to eliminate barriers to college, and provide students with ongoing assistance throughout their time at PCC. Future Connect’s student population has historically been 85 percent students of color, and nearly 90 percent are Pell Grant eligible.

During the past six years, PCC has raised nearly $40 million in grant funding to bolster student support infrastructure, and more than $6.5 million since the start of 2019.

“We are part of nine community colleges who received awards from the state for this upcoming year,” said Josh Laurie, Future Connect manager. “Our collective goal is to increase degree and certificate completion for students who identify as first-generation and/or low-income across the state. The Future Connect Program at PCC has been leading some of this work, and we are excited to be on the forefront of helping our college be more student-ready with the support of this grant.”

The HECC grant will:

  • Support an incoming group of 330 Future Connect students.
  • Provide nearly 125 individual scholarships.
  • Boost outreach to nearly 2,000 high school students next year who identify as first-generation.
  • Create targeted support for 75 high-need students to complete early momentum credits in their first year.

The grant will support student assistance programs that increase the number of underserved, low-income, and first-generation, college-bound students who enroll in community college and make progress toward a degree or a certificate. A new aspect specific to this grant is that it will build on the success of the Future Connect model by creating an embedded cohort of high-need students who will receive intensive support during their first two terms. This includes services tailored to help them complete required math and writing courses. 

Future Connect will increase transfer advising services, as well as expand outreach to students not in the program but who have similar backgrounds. Innovative strategies to reach this population will include virtual coaches, text messaging and connection-to-college resources. Additionally, the grant will increase scholarship and student support funds, and convene statewide partners to create scalable approaches to serve high-need students.

In 2011, the Future Connect Program began as a partnership with the City of Portland to serve schools in Multnomah County. Future Connect has since expanded, thanks to partnerships with Beaverton and Hillsboro to serve students in those cities, as well. According to program statistics, Future Connect students are almost twice as likely to complete their degree, earn a certificate or transfer to a four-year college within three years compared to their community college counterparts nationwide (40 to 22 percent).

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, is the Public Relations Manager at Portland Community College. A graduate of Portland State University, James has worked as a section editor for the Newberg Graphic, Wo... more »