Ready or not – back to school is upon us. And whether that realization excites or terrifies you, students at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) should feel comforted knowing the SPSCC Foundation has a number of services dedicated to making the back to school transition go as smoothly as possible.

SPSCC Foundation Members
The SPSCC Foundation helps make the SPCSS campus welcoming for all students and works to help them succeed, regardless of any barriers they may face. Photo courtesy: SPSCC

SPSCC has long been hailed as a renowned institution that is not only inclusive and welcoming to students of all backgrounds, but is one that has the means and community support to actualize this mission.

Student Life

The Office of Student Life is the giant umbrella on campus that oversees all aspects of what it means to be a successful student at SPSCC, and is in charge of student events, clubs and organizations, and the Student Senate. The SPSCC Foundation has a strong partnership with Robert Lane, Director of Student Life at SPSCC. Lane says SPSCC is unique in its ability to engage students and involve them in creating real solutions to real problems. Essentially if you can dream it, you can make it happen at SPSCC.

Another function of Student Life is the Campus Activities Board (CAB), made up of SPSCC students who plan and host a wide variety of events, lectures, and programs throughout the year. Lane says events can range from a back to school welcome event, such as the interactive art exhibit happening on September 19, an athletic tailgate, or something more serious like an emergency preparedness workshop or self-defense class.

Student Life is responsible for making sure people feel like they’re part of a community, and this actualizes itself in the form of campus clubs. Lane says there are around 20 active clubs on campus, anything from identity-based clubs, like Black Student Union, Queer Club, and Christian Club, to interest-based groups, such as the Makers Club, Automotive Club, Wellness Club, and more.

“Sometimes that’s what a student needs to feel engaged when they’re feeling a little overwhelmed or wonder where they belong,” he says. “When clubs are there to complement their education, it creates a more well-rounded, rewarding experience for them overall.”

SPSCC Student Life Food Pantry Ribbon Cutting
The Food Pantry is a partnership between SPSCC Student Leadership, the SPSCC Foundation, and Thurston County Food Bank. Since opening in October 2017, the Pantry has been able to serve over 225 unique individuals. Photo courtesy: SPSCC Foundation

Lane says it only takes five students and an advisor to start a club and encourages students to do so if they feel there is a need. To see a full list of clubs, visit the SPSCC Student Clubs website.

The Food Pantry

Located adjacent to the Student Union Building, the Food Pantry provides non-perishable food items and toiletries to students on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Food Pantry is another program operated by Student Life. Since opening in October of 2017, the Food Pantry has been able to serve over 225 unique individuals with 750 overall visits, and Lane says that number is expected to grow this year.

“The great thing is that this is students serving students,” Lane says. “Eliminating some of student’s basic needs and setting them up for success is what we’re trying to do, and it’s something our community has really rallied behind.”

SPSCC Student Life Food Pantry
The Food Pantry provides non-perishable food items and toiletries to students on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Photo courtesy: SPSCC Foundation

The Thurston County Food Bank provides food on a weekly basis, which Lane says has created a wonderful partnership as they are able to focus on student’s needs instead of worrying about inventory. Food or toiletry donations are always welcome and can be made by dropping items off at the Thurston County Food Bank or on campus in the Thurston County Food Bank blue bins available in Buildings 34 and 35. Monetary donations can be made online via the SPSCC Foundation.

SPSCC Foundation Scholarships & Emergency Funding Efforts

Beth Schluter with the SPSCC Foundation says the number of scholarships awarded each year to students and the generous emergency funding efforts are exceptional. In fact, last year the Foundation awarded more scholarships than ever – 350 scholarships and grants totaling over $450,000, with awards ranging from $500 to $4,000.

The Foundation has three scholarship cycles each academic year that students apply for through the online scholarships application process found on their website. Some scholarships have special criteria students must meet in order to be considered, such as a GPA requirement or a specific degree path, while many have no specific criteria at all other than that the applicant must be enrolled at the college.

The Foundation also has year-round Student Success Grants for emergency and unplanned circumstances. Students can apply for these grants once per academic year and eligibility for these grants is determined by the college’s Financial Aid Office. Schluter encourages anyone to apply if they are interested in taking advantage of SPSCC’s fantastic scholarship and grant options.

SPSCC Foundation back to school services for students
Students can feel reassured knowing about the many support services offered by the SPSCC Foundation. Photo courtesy: SPSCC Foundation

“Students have received emergency funds for everything from past due rent or power bills to car repairs and even a stolen bike replacement,” Schluter says. “Students can also apply for Student Success Grants for tools, books and other supplies required for the college’s vocational technical programs.”

The Foundation currently has over $525,000 in grants and scholarships available for students for the 2018-19 academic year. More information on current scholarships can be found here.

For more information, visit the SPCC Foundation website, call them at 360-596-5430 or email foundation@spscc.edu.

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