Tens of thousands of community college students in Washington state will benefit from the generosity of Eva Gordon, a Seattle resident who passed away in 2018 at the age of 105. In mid-December, her estate announced that she had bequeathed $10 million to 17 Washington community colleges.
Each of the colleges will receive approximately $550,000. The gift is one of the largest to community and technical colleges in the state.
Gordon worked hard, was frugal and quietly amassed a fortune, but had no formal education herself – something she regretted.
“If I had a scholarship when I got out of high school, I could have done so much more,” Gordon said in a 2013 profile by South Seattle College.
Gordon grew up on an orchard in Eugene, Oregon, and graduated at the top of her high school class. She then went to work as a legal secretary and later for a Seattle investment firm. She married Ed Gordon in 1964 and together they shared a common dedication to higher education.
Little by little, she invested money from meager paychecks to build a fortune and give back to others.
“A lot of people didn’t know the wealth she had. If there was a coupon for two-for-one at Applebee’s, she was all about that,” said John Jacobs, her godson and estate representative. “She liked seeing students working, earning and doing things. Her goal was to provide an opportunity for those folks who could ill-afford it, whether vocational training or an academic skill.”
One of the beneficiaries of Gordon’s gift is South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC). The $550,000 gift is the largest cash donation the college has ever received.
“Ms. Gordon’s gift will create an immediate impact on students in Thurston County,” said SPSCC President Timothy Stokes. “Not only will it allow us to support more students, the gift will allow us to expand the work we’re already doing to help students with ongoing or unexpected expenses like housing, food, childcare, utilities, and more. We are deeply grateful for this planned gift, which will ultimately allow more students to reach their goals.”
Holyoke Community College’s (HCC) Thrive Student Resource Center got a boost with a $50,000 donation from PeoplesBank. Thrive@HCC manages the college’s food pantry and provides financial management and budget planning consultations. Thrive staff also can assist students as they negotiate the complex bureaucracies associated with a myriad of issues such as health insurance, food, housing and utility assistance, and credit repair.
“A lot of times when people think of Holyoke Community College, they only think about us as providing educational services, but our students come here and they are dealing with so many other challenges in their lives, balancing work and school and families and children and sometimes health issues,” said HCC President Christina Royal. “We’re trying to create an environment where everybody knows Thrive is one of the resources the college offers and as a student you have access to this and everything else.”
The donation will help to establish a dedicated fund for Thrive managed by the HCC Foundation.
County College of Morris (CCM) now offers childcare assistance with the support of a $71,348 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The aim of the four-year Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant is to reduce the dropout rate among student-parents by providing the support that can help them to stay in college.
Each semester, the federal grant, supplemented with $25,000 from the CCM Foundation, will provide 15 low-income, degree-seeking students taking six or more credits with access to affordable childcare. Through the CCAMPIS program, CCM will use a sliding scale based on financial need to make a subsidy payment to approved childcare centers. Participating CCM students also will receive advising, tutoring and parenting workshops.
Greenville Technical College received a $25,000 grant from the Bosch Community Fund to provide scholarships to high school students enrolled in dual-credit STEM courses. More than 1,725 high school students took advantage of dual enrollment during this fall. Of those students, 520 are enrolled in math and science courses.
Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College will develop a Potomac Highlands Food Co-Op using a $285,805 USDA Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grant. The Agriculture Department program assists local and regional food business enterprises to expand their operations.
“The Potomac Highlands Food Co-Op seeks to not only meet the demands of the growing agriculture industry in West Virginia but will also provide an opportunity for our agribusiness students to have hands-on experience outside of the classroom,” said Chuck Terrell, president of Eastern WVCTC. “We are also thrilled that this grant will allow us to provide valuable resources, including coordination and educational opportunities, for our regional farmers and growers as we work to increase and improve the market for our region of West Virginia.”
The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) has awarded nearly $1.7 million to community and technical colleges as part of Career Launch, which prepares young adults for careers by combining on-the-job experience with classroom studies.
Two types of grants were awarded: the Career Launch Enrollment Expansion award, intended to increase enrollment in Career Launch-endorsed programs and registered apprenticeships, and the Career Launch Capital Equipment award, intended to help colleges pay for equipment.
Some of the programs funded include an ironworkers apprenticeship at North Seattle College, a roofers apprenticeship at Clover Park Technical College and training in semiconductors and electronics at Clark College.
A list of colleges receiving grants is available here.
Career Launch is part of Career Connect Washington, whose goal is to have 60 percent of young adults beginning with the class of 2030 participate in a Career Launch program.