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Using Corporate Endowments to Expand Course Offerings

By AACC Staff

Community colleges in Mississippi tap a $50 million endowment from Toyota to train next-generation technology workforce.

With enrollments down at the nation’s community colleges, the perception among some administrators is that money will be tougher to come by.

If we’re talking about funding for full-time enrollments, that’s probably true. But that doesn’t mean colleges can’t find funding elsewhere — in partnerships with industry, for example.

Just look at what’s happening in Mississippi, where community colleges in three counties recently announced the creation of new dual-enrollment programs to train students in three high-demand job fields: aviation, healthcare and robotics.

The money for these programs comes not from state or federal coffers but through a $50 million endowment from automotive giant Toyota, which has a facility in the state.

A story by the Associated Press describes the courses as hybrid (part online, part in person) skills-training modules for college credit. Program administrators say students who enroll in the programs — each course can accommodate 15 to 20 learners — will receive hands-on training in career fields that are expanding locally.

“What we’ve seen is an example of what is possible to enhance educational experiences for our students and to provide tangible real-world experiences of what students might chose to do,” says Mike Clayborne, whose CREATE Foundation manages the fund for Toyota.

Finding funds

Mississippi’s use of the Toyota fund is but one example of the kinds of “collaborative support structures” outlined in Empowering Community Colleges to Build the Nation’s Future: An Implementation Guide, the latest resource from the American Association of Community College’s (AACC’s) 21st Century Initiative.

That document, which provides dozens of practical examples for colleges looking to drive institutional reforms, implores administrators not to make excuses in the quest for institutional reform.

Whether through partnerships with industry or through government or philanthropic support, community college leaders say their institutions can pool resources and find the money to make necessary changes on campus.

The Wal-Mart Foundation recently awarded $4.19 million to AACC in support of its Job Ready, Willing and Able initiative, which includes more than $2.6 million for workforce-education programs at 17 different community colleges across the country.

One of those institutions, Umpqua Community College in Oregon, will receive $180,000 to support job-training programs for the region’s burgeoning wine industry.

Looking for a partner to help you get an initiative off the ground? For a list of ongoing community college and industry partnerships, check out this resource on the AACC website.

AACC Staff

contributed to this report.

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