This research report, which was conducted in June 2020, illustrates the importance of building a strategic endowment plan for a community college.

In this report, we begin with an overview of the community college sector, as well as a discussion of industry trends. We examine fundraising and endowment management strategies, which are becoming more important to these institutions in the current environment. We also review the benefits of using fundraising foundations as part of a community college’s development and endowment management efforts. We include a new discussion on the importance of building a strategic endowment plan, which is an important tool for community colleges that seek to grow their endowment funds through a holistic approach.

Finally, we share the results of our independent research of 191 community colleges in the greater Northeastern United States (12 states), using a universe of colleges that is consistent with the list maintained by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Our study included looking at the use of separate foundations by community colleges as both a fundraising and endowment management vehicle. For our study, a community college is defined as a public, private (not-for-profit), and for-profit institution that offers two-year, associate’s degree programs. Many of our insights on community colleges can be applied to other similar institutions across the nation.

Overview of the community college sector: Community college facts and figures
Community colleges have been an important part of the U.S. educational system since the first community college, Joliet Junior College (IL), was founded in 1916. Until the 1970s, community colleges were commonly referred to as “junior colleges.” However, that term has evolved to mean a private, two-year institution, while a community college has evolved to describe publicly funded two-year institutions. Community colleges primarily attract and accept students from the local community, have an open admissions policy, and are often supported by local tax revenue.

This research study was conducted in 2020 and all data is relevant as of that year, unless otherwise noted. If you have any questions about this study, please do not hesitate to contact the author directly. Please see important disclosures at the end of the article. 

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