On February 1, 2012, the Portland City Council heard and accepted a report on the education efforts funded by the City. Click here to learn more about Future Connect and other PCC Foundation programs. I said while voting:
"Thank you Mayor Adams for your leadership on this work. You have indeed followed in the footsteps of your mentor Mayor Katz in being an Education Mayor, and in making very clear that the City will do whatever we are legally allowed to do and whatever the generosity of the taxpayers of Portland allows us to do, in providing support outside of school hours and doing what we can to support programs in school hours.
I particularly note the 14% increase in graduation rates at Roosevelt High School. I think that's in part due to the City's investment, the taxpayers' investment, of $200,000 into their new sports field. Because, just like that we heard in testimony from the student at David Douglas who wants to get up to go to hip hop class, I know my son was always wanting to get up and get into school and get his grades done so he could go to football after class. Those things all matter. Thanks to Kali Ladd, an absolutely amazing leader at the education team, and the Mayor's whole staff for pulling it together and helping all of us recognize that investment in our youth is investment in jobs. It is investment in our future. We all need to succeed or none of us succeed."
One such City-funded program, Future Connect, is a collaborative scholarship program between the Portland City Council and Portland Community College (PCC). Launched in 2011, Future Connect is designed to reach lower-income, first-generation college students who demonstrate academic promise and are recent high school graduates. The program currently serves 150 first-year college students. In addition to scholarship funding, all Future Connect participants receive direct support and advising services in order to remain enrolled in school and earn degrees.
To date, the PCC Foundation has raised more than $460,000 toward the City's matching challenge, after the City Council invested $360,000 in scarce General Fund dollars. I see this as a good investment in education, jobs, and equity. I recently received a packet of thank-you letters filled with success stories from students who have received Future Connect scholarships. Thanks to Future Connect, these students are now able to pursue their career goals through enrollment at Portland Community College. I am proud to have helped fund college for hundreds of students who are the first college attendees in their families.