Donor support is helping Lakeland Community College students stay on track to earn their credentials and fill a shortage of qualified workers in our community.
Economists project that most jobs in Ohio will require a postsecondary credential by 2025. Lakeland is a critical provider of job training and education to prepare graduates with the skills local employers need for the jobs of the future. Ninety-seven percent of Lakeland graduates live or work in our community, providing local employers with a pipeline of skilled workers who are ready for immediate employment.
To help more students complete their studies, the college has focused on creating a campus experience that increases student success. This includes providing financial assistance, student support services, student engagement programs, and emergency needs funding to keep students on the path to earning their degrees or certificates.
In 2015, the college's philanthropic arm, The Lakeland Foundation, launched a $10 million campaign for scholarships and programs to support Lakeland student success and future economic growth.
"Our students face unique challenges which often prevent them from pursuing a college education or finishing once they have begun," said Greg Sanders, Lakeland vice president for institutional advancement and executive director of The Lakeland Foundation. "Thanks to donors to the Futures Rising campaign, we are creating a campus experience that improves students' success in college, careers and life."
Over the past five years, 1,342 donors contributed $10.7 million to the Lakeland Foundation's Futures Rising Campaign, surpassing its goal. About $4 million was raised for innovative programs to support student success and enhance the campus experience. Programs include diversity initiatives, arts and cultural experiences, leadership opportunities, and other co-curricular activities.
Studies show that the more actively engaged students are - with college faculty and staff, with other students, with the subject matter they are studying - the more likely they are to persist in their college studies and to achieve at higher levels.
Learning experiences, like the Lakeland Honors Program, provide opportunities for students to engage with other classmates and gain valuable skills. Designed to foster leadership development, the honors program offers opportunities for service, travel and social activities while providing an excellent and challenging academic experience.
"I've learned more than just from the hard classes I take in the honors program," said Bradley Gartner, a traditional aged student pursuing his associate of science degree. "I've gained diverse perspectives and leadership and teamwork skills that I wouldn't have attained otherwise."
The campaign also raised more than $2.5 million to provide scholarships for students who need help paying tuition to finish college and gain access to better jobs. While Lakeland's tuition is one of the lowest in the state, more than half of students receive some form of financial assistance.
Scholarships are awarded to students like Kristina Shapiro, a mother of three who worked part-time while studying at Lakeland to become a nurse. "The scholarship helped me to afford the last year of nursing school," said Shapiro, who earned her associate of applied science degree this spring.
During the pandemic, when many students lost their jobs, The Lakeland Foundation focused its fundraising efforts on emergency funds and the Lakeland Cares Cupboard food pantry. Emergency funds provide support for students' most basic needs, such as food, transportation and child care. The Foundation's Immediate Needs Grant is available to students who encounter an unexpected financial hardship in paying for expenses that is preventing them from completing the semester.
Lakeland scholarship recipients went on camera recently to personally thank donors for the generous gifts made to the Futures Rising campaign. View the thank you video on Lakeland's YouTube channel using the link below.