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Lower Columbia College

Lower Columbia College has finalized its budget for the 2018-19 school year. The $24.27 million budget gives small bumps to the library and student services, among other things.

Lower Columbia College has launched a new initiative intended to fill in financial gaps where state funding falls short.

Since 2008, the state-funded portion of the school’s operating budget has shrunk by 23 percent.

The new initiative — called the College Success Fund — is designed to respond to the school’s fluctuating needs, said Kendra Sprague, vice president of the Lower Columbia College Foundation.

The new fund has already raised about $85,000 since it was announced at the LCC’s annual gala at the end of September, Sprague said.

The fund will pay for new equipment in classrooms, new buildings and student scholarships. Instructors can also request grants to take on innovative projects. Other potential uses could include veterans’ support services, student-led special projects and industrial trades recruitment, Sprague said.

The LCC Foundation’s board of directors will designate funds based on the college’s annual priorities, she said. Faculty and staff can apply for money from the fund every spring through a grant application process.

“It’s all of the things that the Foundation has been doing for years, but it’s just an added focus to raise money so that we can help even more,” she said.

The fund will be run through the LCC’s non-profit foundation, which has supported the college for more than 40 years.

Sprague said the fund will ultimately benefits students by giving them access to state-of-the-art classrooms, new programs and additional scholarship money.

The College Success Fund should not be confused with the Student Success Fund, which is a separate LCC initiative.

The Student Success Fund distributes $50,000 every year — typically in sums of less than $500 — to struggling students who are at risk of dropping out. The money goes toward emergency needs such as gas money, daycare bills or rent.

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