Pasadena City College announced Tuesday the receipt of a $30 million donation, the largest single philanthropic gift in its nearly 100-year history.
The landmark investment from author and philanthropist Mackenzie Scott will dramatically expand PCC’s efforts to enhance the equity and diversity of the students and communities it serves.
“This is the kind of moment that takes your breath away,” said Dr. Erika Endrijonas, superintendent/president of Pasadena City College. “Everyone here does what we do because we believe in the ability of PCC to change lives for the better. We don’t expect to receive this kind of recognition, but today, it’s our lives that have been changed.
“I cannot wait to put this investment to work,” she added.
The unrestricted gift is remarkable in the world of American two-year colleges. The PCC Foundation’s recently completed major gifts campaign netted an impressive $16 million in philanthropic support from local donors, and Tuesday’s donation more than doubles the assets of the Foundation.
“This gift creates an unparalleled momentum for the PCC Foundation to fulfill its mission of enhancing teaching and learning at the college,” said Gloria Pitzer, president of the PCC Foundation. “The PCC Foundation is thrilled to be part of this exciting moment and to be trusted as custodians for this gift.”
Ms. Scott’s philanthropy has touched more than 780 institutions around the country, including many colleges and universities, as she pursues a pledge made last July to “give the majority of [her] wealth back to the society that helped generate it.”
Plans for the donation are still being finalized, but Dr. Endrijonas said the funding will be targeted toward populations that could benefit the most from the donation. “We need to make sure this transformational opportunity reaches as many of our students as we can manage,” she said. “We will be making investments in programs and services that increase student equity, drive completion rates across student demographics, and ensure student success at scale.”
California’s community colleges are hurrying to reach a goal to eliminate persistent gaps in success and graduation rates. In 2019, the same year she was appointed the college’s first LGBTQ superintendent/president, Dr. Endrijonas made a bold challenge for PCC to be the first college in the system to hit this mark by 2027.
PCC has earned national recognition for its efforts to transform a community college education, with a particular focus on equity and pathways to economic mobility. The Aspen Institute has selected it three times as one of the top 10 two-year institutions in the nation, and in 2020 the California Community Colleges chose PCC as the winner of the John W. Rice Award for Student Success.
PCC is a state leader in transfers to the University of California and California State University systems. Its First-Year Experience Pathways and Ujima programs help students prepare for a successful college career, and satellite campuses in Rosemead and Northwest Pasadena bring PCC’s programs and services to the community.
The gift comes as a vote of confidence in Dr. Endrijonas’ leadership and her team, and arrives during a period of increased philanthropic support for two-year institutions. Last October, the Foundation for California Community Colleges announced a $100 million pledge from the Pritzker Foundation to support the state’s neediest students. Around the country, data compiled by Inside Higher Ed showed that community colleges raised 47 percent more in the first nine months of 2020 than they did in all of 2019.