Crafton Hills College Foundation helps students continue their education during pandemic – San Bernardino County Sun

Crafton Hills College Foundation exists to support the students and programs at the college. The Foundation raises funds to offset expenses, equipment, and facilities that cannot be covered by the college’s limited general funds. The bulk of the Foundation’s support goes directly to assist students.

The majority of students attending Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa are socioeconomically disadvantaged and the first in their families to attend college, according to the college’s Director of Institutional Advancement Michelle Riggs. The majority of students are going to school part time and juggling jobs, family, and school.

“The funds make it possible for them to continue their education, which changes the landscape of our community,” Riggs said. “We have a healthier, more well-educated community, less crime, and a better economy.”

Jenny Orosco, faculty member, Joshua Cologgi, student CHC Paramedic Program (Courtesy of Crafton Hills College Foundation)

Crafton Hills closed its campus during spring break of 2020, transitioning to remote learning. This was a challenge for many students who didn’t have internet at home and could no longer visit the library for access. The Foundation was able to assist students in need with Wi-Fi hotspots and laptops.

The Foundation, a 501(c)3, began helping students with emergency funds several years ago and that need increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students would get partway through the semester before facing an unexpected expense and would have to drop out of school. Once a student drops out, it is very difficult to get them to return, according to Riggs.

Crafton Hills College Foundation awarded over 500 students scholarships, emergency grants, or assistance in the last year. Many students were working in retail or the restaurant industry and lost their income. This assistance often kept students from dropping out before finishing their degree.

“I have 200 stories in my email right now of students who received an emergency grant and it made the difference in them being able to continue their education,” Riggs said. “That $500 made a huge difference to them and it changes the trajectory of their lives when they can graduate and get a job.”

The Foundation works closely with school leadership, identifying the greatest needs and most beneficial improvements for students on campus. Crafton Hills opened a STEM Success Center and started an Honors Institute with donor support. The Foundation also assists graduating students who cannot afford application fees to transfer to a four-year college and provides scholarships to high school students.

“The funding we receive from the state doesn’t cover all the needs of the college,” Riggs said. “The funds the Foundation provides makes such a huge difference and makes Crafton Hills what we are.”

Recently, Crafton Hills College Foundation received a grant from the San Bernardino County Nonprofit Assistance Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation.

Many of Crafton Hills College’s students are living paycheck to paycheck while pursuing an education with sights on a higher paying profession. Following the pandemic, there will continue to be a need to help students with financial obstacles.

Those interested in assisting the Foundation can consider serving on the foundation board, donating or participating as a volunteer. The college will be opening at about 50% capacity in August.

“Crafton Hills College Foundation provides a huge benefit, but our community is unaware that we need their support,” Riggs said.

Information: or [email protected]

Inland Empire Community Foundation works to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy.