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The Daily News’ Students in Need fundraising drive has captured the attention of state community college leaders.

The Washington Association of College Trustees named TDN the 2019 community college “Partner of the Year” earlier this month after Lower Columbia College nominated the newspaper for the award in honor of its annual fundraising drive for LCC’s Student Success Fund.

That fund provides relatively small grants for students to help pay for short-term financial emergencies that might otherwise cause them to drop out of college. Most often students use the grants for tuition, rent, gas, car repairs or testing fees.

“LCC plays an important role in the community, as does The Daily News. The fact that we can partner together to provide financial resources for students in need is a wonderful example of how a community can work together to accomplish goals,” LCC President Chris Bailey said last week.

TDN started the Students in Need drive in 2016. Since then, the newspaper has raised more than $125,000 for the fund.

TDN is currently in the middle of its fourth drive, which aims to raise $50,000 — or the average annual amount LCC distributes in Student Success grants.

To donate to this year’s drive, fill out and mail the coupon from the print edition or go to TDN.com/students and click on the Students in Need “Donate Online” button in the body of the story. This year’s drive ends May 14.

David Thornberry, TDN publisher, said that studies have shown it only takes one person to help an entire family and future generations “ascend in society.”

“Success is contagious. This is why we participate in Students in Need,” Thornberry said. “If we can even slightly assist that one person, we can positively influence and entire extended family and generation to come. We count it as a privilege to participate in this process.”

The Student Success Fund helps students to get a “small leg up to realize their goal,” Thornberry added. At LCC, 59 percent of Student Success Fund grantees finish their degrees. That’s compared to the completion rate for all LCC students, which is 28 percent.

“The importance of this is that education can transform lives. Individuals can obtain degrees … because of those grants, and that’s really an important aspect of what we do at the college,” Bailey said.

The Association of College Trustees started naming the partner of the year in 2007 to recognize businesses, companies, agencies, organizations or elected officials for their support of community college missions, most often through donations. This is the first year LCC’s Partner of the Year nominee has been selected to win.

Bailey said the award honors not only the newspaper, but also the greater Cowlitz County community.

“It’s the community’s giving that makes this successful. The Daily News provided the vehicle for that, but it’s the community ... that makes it work,” Bailey said.

Thornberry added that the drive can “provide a blueprint” for other community groups looking to help residents get a “small leg up to realize their goal.”

“While we are grateful and driven to participate, being named as an outstanding partner with community colleges is a sign that we and our generous readers are making a significant difference, as well.”

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