Catherine Abbott at College of the Desert.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRUCE FEAGLE
Empowering students to achieve their educational dreams energizes Catherine Abbott, executive director of the College of the Desert Foundation. While tuition remains low at community colleges in California, the cost of books, technology, and resources can add up to several thousands of dollars, leaving many students with limited funds to cover their housing, food, and childcare.
“Through innovative programs such as the award-winning EDGE/plEDGE tuition assistance program, local students can attend COD free for two years,” she says. “However, that does not cover everything needed to get them to school every day. Only 37 percent of students attend COD full-time. The other 63 percent juggle their classes with multiple jobs just so they can put a roof over their head and food on the table.”
The COD Foundation helps bridge that gap by supporting Foster Youth Services and Campus Central Pantries as well as transformational programing.
“When we provide comprehensive access to education, we produce a professional workforce to strengthen the Coachella Valley’s social and economic infrastructure,” adds Abbott, who has garnered appreciable recognition for her passionate commitment to nonprofit fundraising over the past 17 years. “Imagine just one of the 83 percent of first-generation students who receive their diploma. Now multiply the empowerment of that one student to the 125,000 alumni that add more $300 million of economic impact. Why wouldn’t you invest in education?
“I am so proud of the COD Foundation’s Board of Directors and our dedicated donors whose investments in our students, empower them to Spread their Wings.”