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Finding New Revenue Streams to Fund College Success

By Tony Zeiss

Turn your college into a revenue generator with a creative, top-down fundraising strategy.

If we hope to meet President Obama’s challenge to educate and train an additional 5 million community college graduates by 2020, while maintaining quality programs with top faculty and staff, we must recognize the need for community colleges to receive adequate funding and to implement a workable business model.

Four years ago, I wrote a commentary that appeared in the February/March 2010 issue of the Community College Journal to inspire presidents and their advancement staffs toward achieving greater self-reliance in revenue acquisition. Since that time, the challenge has only grown more urgent: most tax-based revenues have decreased and become less predictable.

When the American Association of Community Colleges released its Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future report back in 2012, it made seven recommendations for community college reform in the 21st century. Among those recommendations was “target public and private investments strategically.”

With proper planning and the will to succeed, every community college can become a revenue generator.

As community college leaders, we can bewail budget cuts and criticize policymakers, or we can take positive measures that place the destinies of our colleges in our own hands. With proper planning and the will to succeed, every community college can become a revenue generator. As president of North Carolina’s Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC), I can attest that the push to generate revenue across the institution starts where it should: at the top. Community college trustees expect their presidents to lead fundraising efforts at their colleges. Presidents who embrace this essential role provide immeasurable value to their faculty, staff, college and community.

At CPCC, our foundation recently completed a five-year capital campaign and raised $63 million. Last November, the college obtained $280 million in county construction bonds. The college also realized a 3 percent increase in state funds and a 7 percent increase in county funds. The college is awarded an average of $5 million in public and private grants each year, excluding Pell grants. CPCC also benefits from $1.5 million earned annually through entrepreneurial pursuits.

All of this has been achieved through a proactive top-down fundraising strategy. If your college is looking for a guide to take hold of its financial future, I recommend the League for Innovation monograph Alternative Funding for Community Colleges. It is time for our community colleges to become masters of their own destinies. To do that, community college leaders must take revenue streams into their own hands.

What creative strategies does your college use to generate revenue for its projects? Tell us in the Comments. 

Tony Zeiss

is president of Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina.

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