Saddleback College is pleased to announce that Sue and Bill Gross, of Laguna Beach, have established a $1 million endowment to provide scholarships to students in career technical education programs that lead directly to jobs in skilled occupations with a strong employment outlook. The Sue and Bill Gross Scholars Endowment will support students in programs that can be completed in two years or less that lead to jobs that pay a living wage in Orange County.
The scholarships provide much-needed funding to help students pay for their college education, but also address the profound increase in available jobs that require education or training beyond high school, but often less than a bachelor’s degree.
The generous endowment follows the Gross Scholars Program established in 2014, which has provided $500,000 in scholarships for students in the “forgotten middle” – students who have an unmet financial need yet are ineligible for a full Pell Grant or other government assistance to pay for college – who successfully complete education and career training at Saddleback College and secure skilled jobs.
“Investing in Saddleback students is an investment in our regional economy,” said Sue Gross, Gross Family Foundation President. “These scholarships will provide financial support to students who are investing in their futures, giving them the ability to focus on their career training without worrying about how they are going to pay for their studies.”
Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “Sue and Bill Gross must be commended for taking this bold step for students in the ‘forgotten middle,’ and for recognizing the contributions of community colleges as a vehicle for economic growth. We at Saddleback greatly appreciate their continued generosity and are delighted that their financial support will give students the ability to train for rewarding jobs with competitive salaries.”
Scholarships will be available to current Saddleback students who are veterans, displaced workers, or other adult learners who possess a high school diploma or general education development credential and are currently enrolled in a CTE program. High school seniors with a 2.5 or better grade point average will also be eligible if they have completed at least one course in a defined career pathway through a Regional Occupational Program, a CTE program at Saddleback College, or a local high school academy. Scholarship recipients will be required to maintain a 2.5 or better GPA.
Nazly Reyes, a Gross Scholars Program recipient and Saddleback nursing program graduate, said, “Thank you, Gross Family! With your kindness I was able to achieve my Associate in Science degree in nursing with a 4.0 grade point average. I am happy to report that I am currently employed at Fountain Valley Hospital as a Registered Nurse in labor and delivery. Dreams do come true!”
For information on the Gross Family Foundation, please contact Mark Porterfield at Mark.Porterfield@outlook.com.
The Saddleback College Foundation initiates and coordinates college and community fundraising in support of Saddleback College and its students. By raising funds for scholarships and other programs, which directly benefit students, the foundation is committed to increasing student success and the enhancing the excellent education offered by Saddleback College. Guided by a group of dedicated community leaders, the foundation strives to make higher education attainable for all in south Orange County. For more information, please visit www.saddleback.edu/foundation.