In an effort to meet the growing demand for financial aid for SBCC students, the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College launched its Campaign for Student Success, raising nearly $700,000 for scholarships, book grants, tutoring and child care.

The campaign was a six-week phonathon implemented by a network of foundation directors, staff, volunteers and community leaders. More than 6,000 calls were made by 175 people, articulating the message of students’ needs directly to the community, one-on-one.

“The convergence of state budget cuts and the financial constraints individual students face puts an extra hardship on our students,” foundation board president Neil Kreisel said. “We reached out to our donors, past and present, and to friends and family, telling them that a donation of any size would be appreciated — just please help. In any economy, the programs the Foundation for SBCC funds are the difference between success and failure for so many.”

To sweeten the deal and add a sense of urgency, a major donor offered to match every dollar with 50 cents. Callers eagerly let potential donors know that every dollar pledged would result in a $1.50 donation to the Foundation for SBCC. The money came in slowly — the first gift was $1 — and began to grow due to the match and word of mouth.

“Everyone regards SBCC as affordable, but may not realize how the costs add up for students. Textbooks are $400 or more per semester. Gas is nearing $4 a gallon. Enrollment fees are on the rise. It costs an average of $11,000 per year to attend SBCC,” said Vanessa Patterson, executive director for the Foundation for SBCC. “For low-income families, or for those paying their own way through school, this is a huge burden.”

Escalating fee hikes and required student fees at California’s community colleges can deter prospective SBCC students from pursuing their dreams of a college education and a better life for their families. While it is still the most affordable option in higher education, community college students face the same financial challenges as any college students, including the foregone income of working full time and the scarcity of part-time jobs in this economy.

The results were remarkable. Funds raised will be put to use throughout this school year, such that:

» 420 textbooks will be available to those who can’t afford to buy their own.

» 125 peer tutors are available to those needed to master basic General Education classes in their first year of college.

» 25 internships are available to give real-world work experience to students entering the work force.

» 15 single-parent students will be able to provide safe, accredited child care for their children for a year while they pursue their studies.

» 300 students will get scholarships to offset their expenses (awarded in May 2012).

— Stefanie Davis is the manager of marketing and communications for the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College.