Pima Foundation, the fundraising arm of Pima Community College, has received a $5 million challenge grant from The Connie J. Hillman Family Foundation to fund new programs and workforce development initiatives in Southern Arizona. The grant is the largest gift in the history of Pima Community College and its Foundation.
The gift is a two-to-one matching grant initiative over the next three years. For every two dollars Pima Foundation raises, the Hillman Foundation will match one dollar up to $5 million. To receive the full $5 million, Pima Foundation will have to raise a total of $10 million over the next three years.
“What we’ve learned from doing these challenge grants is that it’s helped charitable organizations much more than just an outright grant,” said Larry Adamson, director of the Hillman Foundation, “It permits those funds to be an incentive to make it easier for an organization to go out and ask people to step up and meet the challenge.”
Like many community colleges that serve predominately minority populations, PCC has been hit hard by the pandemic. Overall enrollment dropped 20% over the past two years, as prospective students opt for jobs to support their families or take care of sick relatives rather than going to school.
“The pandemic worsened financial barriers already faced by prospective minority and first-generation college students,” said Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert. “Our challenge is to fund new targeted workforce initiatives that will help those in our underserved communities get back to school and on a path to a family-sustaining career.”
Raising $10 million to take full advantage of the $5 million challenge grant will be a formidable task for Pima Foundation, which has an endowment of $8 million, but Pima Foundation President Marcy Euler said the college is up to the challenge.
“We know there is a tremendous need in our underserved communities to ease the financial challenges of going back to school,” said Euler. “Without additional aid, we are losing a generation of students and potentially widening the poverty gap in our region. There is a real urgency to reversing the damage to our minority students caused by the pandemic.”
Pima Foundation plans to raise challenge funds by appealing to large and small individual donors, local businesses and industries and other foundations.
Founded in 2011, The Connie J. Hillman Family Foundation has awarded more than $14 million to local nonprofit organizations. Its pledge of $5 million in matching funds to Pima Foundation is its largest commitment in the Tucson region.
Pima Foundation, established over 44 years ago, is committed to championing Pima Community College by cultivating relationships for lasting positive impact. The Foundation oversees 200+ funds, including endowments, monies for PCC programs and student scholarships.