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News Releases
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PCC is leading state's new SNAP 50/50 Consortia (Photo) - 05/23/17

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A growing group of institutions led by Portland Community College is helping Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients build a pathway to living-wage jobs.

PCC, Chemeketa, Klamath, Lane, Linn-Benton and Mt. Hood community colleges have established Oregon Community College SNAP 50/50 Consortia. It is a $2.4 million budgeted reimbursement, third-party match program, administered federally by Food and Nutrition Services and statewide by the Oregon Department of Human Services. The colleges are reimbursed for 50 percent of their expenses related to the project while the other half comes from existing college resources, like state, local grant or foundation funding.

"Based on a study, this strategy had a huge return of investment, not just in terms of the federal match generated to support Oregonians, but also in terms of getting people out of poverty so that they don't need SNAP or other public assistance," said Kate Kinder, Career Pathways and Skills Training director. "In times of tight budgets, this is a strategic way to maximize funding while still prioritizing student success, access, and equity."

The goal of the project is to increase employment and training opportunities for individuals and families who are receiving SNAP, which offers food benefits to eligible, low-income individuals and families. Through the SNAP 50/50 Consortia, colleges will offer extra support and resources that can help students complete their GED, increase their English skills, earn a college credential, do an internship, and/or find a job that leads to a living-wage career.

"In collaboration with DHS, the colleges came together to increase the resources for those who are food insecure, and often needing to juggle work, family, and school in order to increase their economic situation," added Kinder. "I think it can be a really impactful program."

The statewide project, which will serve 484 individuals in the first year, is using the community colleges' nationally recognized Career Pathways framework and a skills-based approach to support SNAP recipients as they access education and training, and transition into employment. Career Pathways assist students to advance in their education and career, and offer three- to nine-month stackable certificates that lead to a job and a degree. The Community College Consortia will collaborate and align with other 50/50 providers and workforce programs, like Central City Concern, New Avenues for Youth, Outside In, and Worksystems, Inc.'s Career Boost initiative in the Portland Metro area.

"The project is starting out slowly and colleges are being strategic and mindful with enrollment to ensure capacity, quality, and outcomes," Kinder said. "The hope is to eventually have all 17 community colleges on board and part of the consortia."

As an example of the 50/50 Consortia, students are getting extra coaching support in the Maritime Welding Career Pathway at PCC's welding lab on Swan Island and in the Vigor Industrial's shipyard. Thanks to a partnership between Vigor, PCC, and Worksystems Inc., students were able to receive WorkSource scholarships to pay for tuition, books, tools and equipment. Students can earn stackable credits, certificates, and industry recognized credentials that create an avenue to either employment with the likes of Vigor Industrial or into the college's Welding Technology associate degree.

Oregon DHS is on the cutting edge, and a national leader in how they are expanding SNAP 50/50 programming to align workforce systems and state resources, community based organizations, and community colleges. The Community College consortia was also fortunate to receive technical assistance from National Skills Coalition and the Seattle Jobs Initiative, to learn from Washington State's successful SNAP 50/50 initiative called the Basic Food Employment and Training Program (BFET). In less than ten years, BFET grew from a project of one community college and four community-based organizations with a budget of $1.41 million to encompass 34 community colleges and professional technical colleges, 29 community-based organizations and a budget of $36.6 million.

"With DHS's leadership and vision, and our experience learning from Washington community colleges and their data-driven model, we are positioned to create effective anti-poverty programs that can have a big impact in communities across the state," Kinder said.

For more information, contact Kate Kinder at either skinder@pcc.edu, or (971) 722-6271.


About Portland Community College: PCC is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon, serving more than 78,000 full- and part-time students. PCC has four comprehensive campuses, eight education centers or areas served, and 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

Visit PCC news on the web at http://news.pcc.edu/

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PCC Foundation receives big gift from Chris and Tom Neilsen (Photo) - 05/16/17

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The PCC Foundation has reason to be excited.

A $280,000 gift from Tom and Chris Neilsen of Northwest Portland will provide hundreds of students with scholarships over the next 20 years. The gift, the first of its kind for PCC, will be invested as a limited term endowment to maximize the impact of the gift and provide between $10,000-$20,000 per year for PCC student scholarships. The couple will take the required minimum distribution from their IRA, using the distributions for a longer term plan to support PCC students.

Longtime PCC Foundation supporters, the couple owned Neilsen Manufacturing Inc., a Salem-based family business serving the high-tech industry. After retiring to Portland in 2007, Chris served on the PCC Foundation Board for five years and was appointed president for one of her terms. Today, she remains active with the philanthropic arm of the college and is a member of PCC Foundation's new Emeritus Board.

"We have been supporters of the Future Connect and scholarship programs at PCC, and we decided that because that work is very important to us and to our community, we wanted to support it more deeply," said Chris Neilsen. "For many years we have been donors to the community college in the area where we've lived: first in Salem, and now in Portland, because we believe community colleges are the absolute best investment. We believe Portland Community College is top-notch."

The Portland couple sought a way to significantly increase the returns from their philanthropic investment. As opposed to a traditional endowment that provides an average four percent return forever, the Tom and Chris Neilsen Impact Fund will divest in 20 years, allowing the couple to see the benefit of larger awards over a shorter span of time.

"Every student story is an inspiration," she added. "Both of us are humbled by the persistence and desire by PCC students to make their lives better. We are proud to support them in accomplishing their dreams. And we know that as they do that, they impact their own families and the community positively."

The Neilsens count PCC among their top priorities and are strong proponents of the PCC Foundation's Future Connect Program, which provides scholarships, in-depth advising and college success coaching to low-income and first-generation students. Scholars are guided through college, all the way to completion of a certificate or degree. We had an opportunity to sit down and chat with the couple to explore reasons for their generosity.

"The Neilsen's gift of education will change the lives of our students and their families for generations to come," said Ann Prater, executive director of the PCC Foundation. "The impact will be enormous."

For a detailed story on the Neilsens, visit: http://news.pcc.edu/2017/05/chris-tom-neilsen/


About Portland Community College: PCC is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon, serving more than 78,000 full- and part-time students. PCC has four comprehensive campuses, eight education centers or areas served, and 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

Visit PCC news on the web at http://news.pcc.edu/

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PCC's Portland Women in Art Lecture Symposium honors arts advocate (Photo) - 05/15/17

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A local legend will be heralded at the 2017 Portland Women in Art Lecture Symposium (PWALS), an annual event hosted by Portland Community College that explores feminist art topics.

Arts advocate Mardy Widman is the star attraction of this year's event, which is sponsored by PCC and the student-driven Time Arts Club at Portland State University. PWALS will take place from 4-6 p.m. on Friday, May 26 in Room 200 of the Art Building at Portland State University (2000 SW 5th Ave.). Organizers will acknowledge Widman's impact with presentations at the beginning and end of the symposium. A reception in Room 240 will follow. Admission is free, and the public is welcome. The venue is ADA accessible.

"PCC's Portland Women in Art Lecture Symposium presents important women in the visual arts to the students and faculty of Portland Community College, as well as to a larger Portland audience," said organizer and PCC art history faculty Elizabeth Bilyeu. "The project focuses on pioneering feminist artists and women significant in the fields of art and art history."

In the spirit of raising awareness of women's roles in art, this year's celebration recognizes Widman's contributions as an artist, advocate and patron of the arts in support of her family of artists, students and colleagues in Portland and throughout the Northwest. The Art Adventure Gallery in Madras, Oregon represents Widman. She recently exhibited her paintings at the 12 x 16 Gallery in Portland and the Golden Gallery in Beaverton.

In individual 15-minute presentations, a panel of artists and art historians will explore traditional and non-traditional methods of art making, from sewing to photography to painting with guns.

"The panel will consider contributions of women in art and design historically and in the present day, all tied to current debates around gender rights and roles of women in society," Bilyeu added.

Following are the sessions and presenters:

Bilyeu will present "Women and Guns in the Visual Arts," which is inspired by art content from the classroom, conversations with student veterans, current events, and incidents on an urban college campus.

Kelsey Birsa, a student at Portland State University pursuing her bachelor's degree in Fine Arts, will lecture on "The Transience of (Female) Body Consciousness." The topic reflects her painting process and concepts explored in her current work.

Prudence Roberts, PCC art history instructor and director of the Rock Creek Campus Helzer Gallery, will highlight "Stitching Resistance," which looks at political activism through textile work made by women.

Artists Rachel J. Siegel and Deborah Faye Lawrence will present "The Evolution of Agent Yu." This talk will describe the collaborative stop-motion animation project built on Siegel's D.I.Y. aesthetics, her knowledge of photography and digital processes, supported by Lawrence's creative writing skills and her prowess with scissors. Accordionist Kyle Hanson of The Murkies will accompany the animation.

Sue Taylor, PSU's associate dean of Academic Affairs in the College of the Arts, will showcase "A Diffident Amazon: Hollis Sigler Comes Out." This session traces the exuberant art and activism of the celebrated Chicago feminist who died of breast cancer in 2001.

Christine Weber, PCC art history faculty and department chair at the Sylvania Campus, will highlight "Too Many Artists in the Kitchen," which addresses the challenges women artists faced working at the Bauhaus.


About Portland Community College: PCC is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon, serving more than 78,000 full- and part-time students. PCC has four comprehensive campuses, eight education centers or areas served, and 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

Visit PCC news on the web at http://news.pcc.edu/

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At more than a half million dollars, PCC Foundation Gala breaks own record in fundraising (Photo) - 05/02/17

PORTLAND, Ore. -- It was a record-breaking night for the Portland Community College Foundation.

The philanthropic arm of the college hosted its sixth annual gala and raised a record $514,000 for scholarships and success initiatives. With the theme, "Grand Lodge," the PCC Foundation's "An Evening for Opportunity" Gala attracted nearly 500 attendees on April 22 at Pure Space in Northwest Portland. Funds raised will help hundreds of PCC students, many being the first in their families to attend college, and with deep financial need, to be supported in their academic pursuits.

"It's our community of supporters that sustain our scholarship and support programs, which make a difference in the lives of our students, their families and future generations," said Marion Levitan, PCC Foundation Board President.

The PCC Foundation recognized Betty Duvall with its 2017 Patron Award Winner that evening for her work in education and longtime support of student success. Duvall is a professor emerita at Oregon State University, but has spent most of her career as a community college administrator, and 20 years as a dean, including at PCC. In 1995, she was appointed as the first-ever Community College Liaison for the U.S. Department of Education. Since her retirement, she has served as president of the PCC Foundation Board of Directors and is a member of the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

The PCC Foundation is a nonprofit organization that expands access to education by funding scholarships and educational programs that support students at Portland Community College, the largest higher education institution in Oregon.


About Portland Community College: PCC is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon, serving more than 78,000 full- and part-time students. PCC has four comprehensive campuses, eight education centers or areas served, and 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

Visit PCC news on the web at http://news.pcc.edu/