$10M gift to fund unique Colorado campus

A rendering of Arapahoe Community College’s new Sturm Collaboration Campus at Castle Rock, which is scheduled to open later this year. (Image: DLR Group)

Arapahoe Community College (ACC) has received a gift of up to $10 million from the Sturm Family Foundation — the largest in the history of the 13-institution Colorado Community College System — to develop a unique collaborative campus that includes K-12, colleges and the workforce.

Coupled with a $5 million match opportunity, the full potential of the gift could be more than $15 million, according to the college. The funding will go toward ACC’s new Sturm Collaboration Campus at Castle Rock, which will pair educational and industry partners to provide students the opportunity to learn in a “tech-forward” environment with a flexible pathway-based schedule designed to make it easier to work while they attend college.

“Our participation with Arapahoe Community College was created intentionally to support a new model of industry-aligned higher education that provides students clear on-and-off ramps while embarking on a path of lifelong learning and workforce success,” said Donald Sturm, chair and founder of the Sturm Family Foundation, owner of ANB Bank and developer of The Meadows in Castle Rock, where the campus is located. “Through the matching gift opportunity, we wanted to provide a vehicle to enhance the coalition of partners who will leverage our investment to its full potential for the Sturm Collaboration Campus.”

About half of the gift will go toward program and staffing start-up and buying new equipment and technology. Matching dollars raised by the college’s foundation will augment a unique program innovation fund, an endowed scholarship fund and an investment in the future Phase II of the campus, according to the college.

Workforce focus

The campus creates a one of a kind model that will align applied learning and workforce training with educational offerings in areas such as cyber security, secure software development, business, accounting, entrepreneurship and health care.

“This partnership will help us achieve our bold campus vision to serve students, industry and community members in a more seamless manner,” said ACC President Diana Doyle. “We hope future donors will follow the Sturm Family Foundation’s lead and invest in the matching opportunities to maximize the full potential of this generous gift.”

Other partners in the effort include Colorado State University (CSU), the Douglas County School District and the Town of Castle Rock. CSU will offer bachelor’s degree programs at the AACC campus, and will work closely with ACC and the school district to create a smooth pathway from high school concurrent enrollment to associate to bachelor’s degrees that align to relevant career pathways.

The Arapahoe Douglas Workforce Center and two industry partners will also have a presence on the campus. Classes are scheduled to begin in fall 2019.

“A gift of this magnitude creates real-life opportunities for Colorado students to transition from the classroom into careers,” Colorado Community College System Chancellor Joe Garcia said in a news release.

Thinking strategically

Conversations with the college started with a casual inquiry from the foundation, said Eric Dunker, ACC’s dean of business, technology and workforce partnerships. From there, a relationship grew organically.

“They’re very active with us in terms of strategy and how to leverage this to get more investments,” he said.

Dunker hopes the investment from the foundation not only boosts ACC, but also brings attention to other community colleges in Colorado and nationwide.

“It’s a signal to the donor community that we’re a worthwhile investment. Your money goes far here,” he said.

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