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February 24, 2006

Jennifer Fennell or
Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Florida Community College Matching Grants Program Leads the Nation
Innovative Program Benefits Students and Communities Throughout the State

TALLAHASSEE — Community Colleges and Workforce Education Chancellor David Armstrong today announced that the Florida Community College System (FCCS) Matching Grants Program is once again leading the nation in dollars raised and serves as a model for public/private partnerships in education to other community college systems throughout the country. Using an innovative program created by the Florida Legislature that combines funds raised by Florida's twenty-eight community college foundations and the statewide Foundation for Florida's Community Colleges with legislatively appropriated matching funds, the dollars available to provide increased financial aid awards and create technologically-advanced facilities for community college students across the state are nearly doubled.

"Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature recognize the importance of our Matching Grants Program and their support has made an incredible difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of community college students," said Chancellor Armstrong. "Their matching dollars commitment has nearly doubled the amount of money available to provide financial aid to students, create scholarship endowments, and fund a host of other vital projects."

Although Florida remains one of only a handful of states nationwide who have legislatively created matching grants programs, several states including Louisiana have modeled their approach to community college fundraising after the program to leverage public funds with private investment that was established by the FCCS. Begun in 1983, the Matching Grants Program includes the Dr. Philip Benjamin Matching Program for Community Colleges and the Facility Enhancement Challenge Grant Program. Through 2005-06, the Program has a cumulative total in private contributions for match of $329.4 million and a cumulative total in state match appropriations of $262.1 million.

Several Florida community college foundations outraised their peer institutions by nearly double when compared to the top fundraisers in a random sampling of 100 community colleges surveyed nationally by the Council for Aid to Education. Additionally, the FCCS institutions alone raised two-thirds of the total amount collected by all 100 community colleges in the survey.

In fiscal year 2004-05, matching funds provided for new buildings, building renovations, furniture, equipment, scholarships, endowed chairs, library acquisitions, artists series, academic enhancements (which included classroom speakers, audio-visual materials, instructional materials, and educational supplies), athletics program enhancement, and leadership development and student recognition programs.

The matching funds are also an important component of the community college mission of providing access to needy students. Financial aid is matched to provide awards to students for a variety of reasons, including need-based aid, merit-based aid, fine arts and cultural awards, athletics, public service awards to disabled students, and awards for other programs that train for critical workforce needs such as nursing and firefighting.

Last year, 21,791 financial aid awards were provided to Florida community college students through the Matching Grants Program, utilizing more than $20.1 million and representing a 71 percent increase over the prior year.

On February 1 of each year, the private contributions for match from all twenty-eight community college foundations and the Foundation for Florida's Community Colleges are totaled and the state match appropriation request is determined. That figure is based on $1 of state funds to $1 of private funds for scholarships and facilities enhancements, and $4 of state funds to $6 of private funds for all other eligible uses. Chancellor Armstrong presents this figure to the Governor and Legislature as part of the overall State Board of Education budget request.

The 2006-07 community colleges private contributions for match totaled $79.8 million, representing a 14 percent increase over the prior year. The 2006-07 state match appropriations request of $74.1 million was presented to Governor Bush on February 15. If the state match request for this year is approved, the 24-year history of the Program to combine private contributions and state match dollars will have provided Florida's community colleges with an additional $745.5 million dollars in revenue.

"Community colleges play a leading role in making a community's economy stronger, training its workforce, and providing access to education that its students otherwise could not afford," said Chancellor Armstrong. "That's why the funds generated by this Matching Grants Program are so important. Taxpayers can be proud of the way these dollars encourage private investment in public education and are returned twofold to their local area to provide them with a state-of-the-art community college they can take advantage of and have pride in."

To learn more about local usage of the Matching Grants Program by speaking with the Community College Foundation Director for an institution near you, please click on the following link: Community College Foundation Directors (PDF, 79KB)