Funding roundup

Holyoke Community College biology professor Emily Rabinsky (seated) during a biotechnology lab in the college's Center for Life Sciences, which will benefit from a $7.5 million donation to HCC from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Foundation. (Photo: HCC)

Holyoke Community College (HCC) has received the largest donation in the Massachusetts college’s 74-year history – $7.5 million – which also may be the largest donation to a public two-year college in the state.

The gift is from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Foundation, established by the late Elaine Marieb, a longtime HCC faculty member, alumna and best-selling textbook author.

The donation includes $5 million outright and a $2.5 million matching gift that will go toward future renovations of HCC’s main science facility, the Marieb Building, as part of a multiphase plan to expand the recently opened Center for Life Sciences.

HCC President Christina Royal called the gift “thrilling.”

“This will support HCC’s continued investment in high-demand, high-wage fields in STEM and healthcare, and help us provide generations of students with the academic space and experience they need and deserve,” Royal said. “The Marieb Building represents the heart of her life’s work, since HCC is where her career began.”

Marieb died in 2018. During her lifetime, she was the college’s biggest benefactor, donating more than $1.5 million to HCC, including a $1 million gift in 2014 to help build HCC’s Center for Health Education & Simulation and the Center for Life Sciences.

Last year, the Marieb Foundation gifted $1 million to the college, which was part of Marieb’s estate plan, to help nontraditional-age students at HCC, particularly women.

In 2015, Marieb received the American Association of Community Colleges’ Outstanding Alumni Award.

Elsewhere in Massachusetts, several community colleges were among 54 educational institutions to receive Skills Capital Grants. A total of $14.6 million was awarded. The grants will help the colleges update equipment and expand student enrollment in programs that provide career education.

“The Massachusetts economy is firing on all cylinders, yet there remains a tight job market when it comes to skilled jobs, and Skills Capital Grants have enabled thousands of students across the Commonwealth to gain knowledge and skills in order to be competitive in the job market,”  said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.

Among the grant recipients is Bristol Community College, which received $861,000 to buy equipment to train people for offshore wind occupations. A $250,000 grant to Cape Cod Community College will support the emergency medical services, paramedic and funeral services programs. And Greenfield Community College’s $147,000 grant will allow the college to expand its farm and food systems agriculture program to include sustainable industrial-scale production farming management practices on its Meadow Farm plot at the main campus.

A full list of grant recipients is available here.


Riverside City College received a three-year, $2.1million grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office to participate in the College Homeless and Housing Insecure Pilot Program. RCC is one of 14 California community colleges to receive the $700,000 per year award. The program will help RCC build upon existing infrastructure and resources and local housing services in order to implement a sustainable program for homeless and housing insecure students. 


Eastern Maine Community College received $3,500 check from the Bar Harbor Bank and Trust to support upcoming events. Of the donation, $2,000 will go toward EMCConnect and Signing Day, which allow prospective students to explore the college and sign a letter of intent to attend, much like in athletics.

The remainder of the donation will support an annual scholarship breakfast in April.


Mid Michigan College will use a $5,000 grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation toward its Lakers Leadership Fund, which supports activities at the college that advance access to education and that support student success.

Consumers Energy will receive recognition for the donation by having its name featured as the sponsor of Mid’s Laker Life office. Laker Life organizes enrichment events for students and community members, including the Students of Promise program for seventh graders.

The Consumers Energy Foundation presents Mid Michigan College with a $5,000 grant. (Photo: MMC)


Portland Community College (PCC) will expand student success efforts using a $2.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant supports PCC’s Reimagining Integrated Support for Equitable Success (RISES) Project. RISES will help to integrate academic and student guidance efforts within the college’s initiative Yes to Equitable Student Success (YESS) initiative.

YESS uses guided pathways to increase the number of PCC students who complete a credential or transfer to a four-year institution.

With the new grant funding, the college can implement the next phase of that work. The RISES Project will create a first-year experience for new college students based on equity and inclusion practices, develop community building activities and integrate academic, career, life and financial planning into their support systems. 

“The foundation of this work is to put students at the center of all we do,” said Katy Ho, vice president for academic affairs. “We know that the more support a student can get up front about clarifying goals means they are more likely to find their purpose and passions and complete.”


Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC) students will benefit from the donation of a diesel semi-truck from Food City Distribution Center. The truck will help give students in the diesel mechanics certification program hands-on learning opportunities.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to assist our local community college in increasing their educational offerings to benefit our area students and the community as a whole,” said Food City President and CEO Steven C. Smith.

The Food City Distribution Center has hired several graduates from VHCC’s diesel mechanics certification program.

About the Author

Tabitha Whissemore
Tabitha Whissemore is a contributor to Community College Daily and managing editor of AACC's Community College Journal.
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