The student spokesperson for Hands Across California, an organization raising money to provide financial aid to community college students, said the group still needs support to raise money for PCC at the Academic Senate Board Meeting on Monday.Daniela Rueda, business administration, said that Hands Across California, similar to Hands Across America, is an April 17 event to raise funds for community college students.

“PCC’s involvement is crucial for [the event’s] success,” Rueda said.

Hands Across California aims to make history with 1 million people joining hands, covering over 1,000 miles in support of California community colleges and their nearly 3 million students, said Rueda.

“The community college system is the largest higher education system in the state,” Rueda said. “That is why this event is so crucial.”

“The goal of Hands Across California is to call attention to [the community college] system and to raise funds,” Rueda said. “It is important because over 90 percent of students are in need of financial aid, and almost half of all students do not have the resources to pay for college,” she added.

The money raised during this event will support the California Community Colleges Scholarship Endowment, to provide scholarships to students in need, officials said.

The Bernard Osher Foundation has teamed up with Hands Across California and has pledged to match all donations by 50 percent.

President Mark Rocha spoke out about the importance of supporting the campaign.

“The number one way you can support is to write a check,” said Rocha. “At this point every $50 donation makes a difference,” he added.

The Bernard Osher Foundation has already donated $250,000 to PCC alone. If the college can raise another $250,000 by June 2011, the Osher Foundation will match the total, resulting in $1 million for scholarships for PCC students, Rocha said.

Since Gov. Jerry Brown raised community college tuition to $36 per unit effective for the Fall 2011 semester, this fundraising effort is of the utmost importance, said Rocha.

The Bernard Osher Foundation extended this offer to all 112 community colleges in California. Only about ten have been able to reach this goal, Rocha said. “If you can get out there and hold hands or if you can’t, write a check for $50, it will make a huge difference,” said Rocha. “For the first time the college will have a $1 million permanent endowment for student scholarships,” he said.

President Mark Rocha encourages students, staff and faculty to donate to Hands Across California at the Academic Senate Board meeting on Monday. (Louis C. Cheung)

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