Scholarships may help you pay for studies. The Clackamas Print sat down with Debra Mason and Sally Noble of the Foundation to find out everything you need to know about scholarships and how to apply. Here’s what they had to say.
The Clackamas Print: To start off, what is your job?
Debra Mason: I lead the Foundation in a variety of ways. We do have a really fantastic team, but our ultimate mission is to raise friends and funds to support the students and the programs of Clackamas Community College.
We raise a lot of money to turn around and give to students via scholarships. And that happens twice a year.
Another big piece that’s becoming more and more needed is access to emergency funds. Students can actually access funds for an insurance bill, or to help with rent, things of that nature.
On the college side, the Foundation supports programs as well, There’s programs that we partner with, departments [which help] to raise money for those programs that the college doesn’t have the funding to grow. So I work really closely with donors. I work really closely with instructors on the program side, and with our Foundation board.
TCP: What kinds of scholarships are available to students?
Mason: There’s lots of different scholarships available to students. Almost every scholarship is a little bit different. Sally can certainly answer this question better than I can.
Sally Noble: There are between 250 and 300 different scholarship donors. We have about $1 million that we had this year for scholarships. We have some that don’t have any major definition for the major or study. Some are very particular about that. Some come from the automotive background. I’d say a students’ major can be something that is kind of a criteria that the donor sets. Sometimes it’s a single parent. There’s so many different things. First in their family to be in college. There are a lot of donors that care about those students. That’s kind of what their angle is- what they care about. We just carry their interests into our scholarship awarding process.We [also] have some that are geared toward Spanish speakers. These are new scholarships that we’re having right now. We have some Spanish programming and early childhood education programs that some donors want to provide specifically for those students.
TCP: How do students apply, and when can they apply?
Noble: Everything that students need is on our scholarship webpage, in terms of just getting started. We have two application periods. Round one opens Jan. 30 through mid-April. Then we review the applications the month or two after the award application closes, and give notice to the students that are awarded just after that. The first round awards fall, winter, and spring the following academic year. Students looking to apply right now would be waiting until Jan. 30 to get into the application. We have an info session. We’ll offer three of these in the spring and we have recorded one of the scholarship informational sessions available on the webpage. The Foundation raises funds for our students specifically, and we want students to be successful, so that’s why we do the work that we do.
TCP: How does the Foundation raise money?
Mason: There’s a lot of different ways we do it. One of our biggest giving groups, our constituency groups, are the employees of Clackamas Community College. They are the biggest group of people that donate, [some] employees actually take money out of their paycheck each month or they make a one-time gift. That’s one way we raise money, and it’s pretty phenomenal how generous and how dedicated the staff of CCC is to their students.
We have an individual donor base, and those are people just in the community that care. We talk to them throughout the year, but the big push is the year-end appeal, which you might be familiar with. Most nonprofits, sometime in November or December, send out a letter asking for help and donations. It’s called a year-end appeal, and it comes at the year end because of tax purposes, so if you donate, you get a tax break.
TCP: Is there anything you’d like to add or change about the Foundation?
Mason: I certainly would love to tap into a younger donor base. A lot of our donors are older, and that’s perfectly fine, but I think one push would be to really start looking at our alumni, and people as they leave the college, and tapping into their networks.
TCP: Is there anywhere that students can find additional information?
Mason: You can go to the care team, and they will help you submit a request for some funding. Veterans have their own way of going through to get support, [or you can contact] the counseling center. They also have funds to help with student support. ASG has some funds as well, where students can get some help. And then there’s some supplemental resources as well.
Noble: There’s also financial aid. It may be obvious, but sometimes people don’t know, but financial aid is the first stop, I’d say, just to make sure. They have state and federal grants and scholarships that are outside of what we work on, but we work in tandem on the awarding piece. But they’re definitely a great place to stop, to fill out applications and check in with them. At the Wacheno Welcome Center, they have a desk that students can check in at.
Noble: There’s also a Foundation page, Give Clackamas. If you search Clackamas Community College Foundation, there’s a webpage specifically geared toward our stuff. I wouldn’t direct them to that for the scholarships information though, because there’s some outdated information on there.
TCP: Is there anything else that either of you can think of that would be good information?
Mason: It should be known that the Foundation does literally exist to support students, and we do want everyone to be successful. I’m always open to hearing what the current needs are, talking to any departments or faculty about what they’re hearing, and we really are quite passionate about making sure that students have an opportunity to get here and enroll, and then once they’re enrolled, stay enrolled until they complete what they set out to.
Noble: Informational sessions are really helpful. We don’t get very many students that come to them. And it’s just a drop-in Zoom link. I recommend students start the application well ahead of the deadline, because they can run into obstacles, with everybody submitting in the same particular moment. We do recommend applying early, and then get support. You know, ask questions and come to the info session. We give a little bit more information to students at that, so I would say attending that is beneficial. The questions that we ask in the application are geared toward the donor criteria. This isn’t very interesting, but it’s good to know why we’re asking the questions we’re asking.
I’m one of the only people that can see that information. It’s a protected place with our information. The essays are read by our volunteers and scored, but the rest of the information in the application is kept secure, and it filters them to different scholarship opportunities. So the more information they give, the more questions they answer in the application, the more likely they will match with one of the scholarships. There’s one application that they submit, and then they’re eligible, or competing for up to 300 scholarships. The more information they give us in the application, the more likely they are to match with a scholarship.
This interview has been edited for clarity and space.