CNCC continues fundraising efforts as struggling economy forces expanded mission for the school

RANGELY — With the economy getting shakier with each day, community colleges are needed now more than ever to train and re-train the workforce. Across the nation, enrollment is increasing in community colleges as people opt for affordable, high-quality educational opportunities, yet state funding has declined and may continue to do so.
At Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) and around the nation, many students and their parents are foregoing the more prestigious, expensive universities in favor of a less-expensive alternative to jump-start their degrees, program certification and/or career training. In addition, professionals in struggling industries, baby-boom retirees and laid-off workers are seeking training for new careers or advancement in their current careers.
According to Dr. John Boyd, president of Colorado Northwestern, “We need to offer the types of programs in which students can gain valuable job skills and advance their career or start a new one. Many, in fact, will use this down-time to upgrade their skills and gain that training before the next upsurge.”
In an effort to address the relevant workforce needs of the region, the college has, in recent years, added programs such as nursing, automotive technology, energy and facilities management, power plant technology, banking and financial services and many others.
Nonetheless, with decreasing financial assistance for an expanding mission, community colleges are facing serious economic challenges. Budget cuts have forced many to scale back popular programs, particularly career and technical courses that are more costly to offer and require additional state money.
Despite the growing community need for educational services, state operating support to CNCC has failed to keep pace, representing a 45 percent drop since 2001. The passing of Amendment 50 is expected to supplement current funding with revenue from the state’s gambling casinos but won’t have an impact until approximately 2011 and cannot be used for capital construction.
In response to this challenging economic climate and the needs of business and industry in our community, Boyd emphasized that Colorado Northwestern must cultivate additional private sector support and persevere in its Community Partners Building Futures major gifts campaign. Despite additional tuition revenue, increased enrollment will not cover the added cost of expanding classes and campus infrastructure required to meet enrollment demand and workforce needs, he said.
To date, the Community Partners Building Futures campaign has raised $5,432,080 with a goal of $8.3 million. The campaign is primarily focused on generating funds needed in the areas of construction ($6 million), program expansion ($2 million) and service center support ($300,000).
The construction projects will provide a significant economic stimulus for the region. Local contractors will be used when possible for the Craig campus Career and Technical Center and for the Rangely campus Wellness Center, as well as renovation of the W.C. Striegel Engineering Center and the Rector Science and Math Center.