By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Historic Gift For Community Colleges Targets Central Valley
mjc logo

Both Modesto Junior College and Columbia College are among 34 California Community Colleges that will benefit from a $100 million gift announced to the Foundation for California Community Colleges (FCCC).

California Chancellor Eloy Oakley announced the historic gift at a press conference earlier this month. It is a pledge from the Jay Pritzker Foundation to the state’s community college system over the next 20 years, and marks the largest pledge ever to community colleges in the nation. The funds will be spent for scholarships and emergency financial assistance for students as part of the new California Community College Finish Line Scholars Program. More details will follow from FCCC, the Modesto Junior College Foundation and the Columbia College Foundation.

According to the announcement, 34 community college campuses, including Columbia College and Modesto Junior College, are eligible to take part in the initiative and will each receive up to $150,000 during the first year. The program targets regions with low college degree attainment, including the Central Valley and many rural areas of the state. The goal is to help students in these regions complete their degrees. This first year of funding will focus on student emergency assistance needs, and participating colleges can expect similar funding for at least the first five years of this program that can be used for emergency assistance and scholarships.

“While the funding is excellent news, it also points to the need in our area to increase access to college education and completion of degrees. This first year of funding will focus on student emergency assistance needs, and we will coordinate the new funding with ongoing efforts in student support,” said Modesto Junior College President Dr. James Houpis.

Modesto Junior College Foundation officials were thrilled with the announcement.

“The timing of this generous gift to the CC system couldn’t better. We have so many students that are being challenged during the pandemic. We’re very grateful,” said MJC Foundation Board of Directors, John Scheuber.”

On Columbia’s campus, the announcement was greeted with excitement as well.

“This is fantastic news and we look forward to learning more about how this can help our students at Columbia College, both now and in coming years,” added Columbia College President Santanu Bandyopadhyay. “It’s great to know the donors and the FCCC are specifically targeting regions and communities like ours, where students face so many hurdles in preparing for better jobs and better futures. As the value of a college degree is expected to rise even further in the post-COVID world, this grant is going to help our students in the years to come.”

The Columbia College Foundation also offered appreciation for the college’s inclusion.

“We’re excited to learn of this incredible gift and what it might mean for our students,” said CCF President Jeff Warren. “This is an amazing opportunity, and it matches the top priority at our foundation – providing direct support to our students to help them reach their educational goals. We work with so many community donors and partners who will be thrilled to know this is coming and this gift will add to their past and future contributions.”

Yosemite Community College District Chancellor Henry Yong concurred.

“This will be a much-needed boost to many of our students,” Chancellor Yong said. “For some, this could be the difference between being a successful completer or a dropout. I hope the generosity of the Pritzker Family will inspire many to contribute, and magnify the positive impact on our students and community.”

To learn more about the Foundation for California Community Colleges, visit:

columbia college graphic