2-year colleges get $50 million

Community college students in California will benefit from a $50-million donation from the Bernard Osher Foundation that will fund financial aid for books, supplies, tools and uniforms, officials said. The gift is reported to be the nation's largest ever to a community college system.

An estimated 1,300 annual scholarships worth $1,000 each will start to be available in fall 2009 at all community colleges in the state. The number of grants is expected to quadruple over the next few years. "This gift is going to make such a difference in the lives of our students. It will make a difference in whether they succeed in getting a college education or drop out," said Diane Woodruff, state community college chancellor.

The San Francisco-based Bernard Osher Foundation, established by the former savings and loan industry executive, is giving $25 million upfront and then another $25 million in a matching gift. The goal is a $100-million scholarship fund at the Foundation for California Community Colleges.

"We really thought it is time, especially with all the budget reductions in public education, for private philanthropy to stand with the community colleges," said Osher Foundation President Mary Bitterman.


-- Larry Gordon

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