The Portland Community College foundation just received its first million dollar donation, given by philanthropist Anne Naito-Campbell.
The gift, prompted by the economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, will be used for job training and education at the state's largest community college.
"Education and training play a vital role in the American Dream," Naito-Campbell said in a statement.
The money will establish the "Naito Family Fund for Opportunity" and will support PCC's Pathways to Opportunity effort, a statewide program that helps connect low-income people and displaced workers with community resources while they train for high-demand fields.
Pathways to Opportunity is a coalition of community colleges, human service agencies, and community-based organizations that aims to close opportunity gaps and increase economic mobility.
Naito-Campbell's gift will create an endowment to support students on a Career Pathways track and the Pathways to Opportunity program, with the remaining funds being used to meet urgent needs.
In Career Pathways at PCC, in a single year students can earn certificates in areas from solar voltaic manufacturing technology to gerontology advocacy to yoga teacher to accounting clerk.
PCC President Mark Mitsui said Naito-Campbell's gift fits perfectly with the college's mission to create pathways to completion for the underserved and will be a boost to Oregon's economy.
The gift comes as a staggering economy and uncertainty due to the pandemic has kept many students from enrolling in college.
During recessions enrollment at community colleges usually goes up. But this recession is different and PCC had an 18.4% drop in enrollment in the fall term.
In honor of the gift, PCC will rename the Southeast Campus Library as The Naito Family Library. The Southeast campus, at 2305 S.E. 82nd and Division St., is in the heart of Portland's Asian-American district.
Naito-Campbell is the daughter of the late Portland businessman, civic leader and philanthropist Bill Naito. He was a second-generation Japanese who was born outside of Japan. Bill Naito was a lifelong lover of libraries and, being raised in a non-English speaking household, he valued the many hours spent in libraries as a child, the announcement said.
Naito-Campbell is a principal of the Bill Naito Co., which owns and manages commercial and residential real estate. In addition, she serves on the boards of the Bill Naito Company, Ronald W. Naito MD Foundation, Vintage Trolley Inc. and Lines for Life, which aims to end substance abuse and suicide.
In making the gift, she said: "When the pandemic hit last spring, I thought of all the people affected who were just like members of my own family – people who had worked hard and struggled to build something, to achieve a dream and watched it slip away as a health crisis became an economic crisis. I thought of the small business owners, and workers in industries that seemed to evaporate overnight. I thought to myself, 'What will they do?' I dedicated myself in that moment to being part of a solution."
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