Launched in Fall 2011 by the Portland Community College with a group of 150 Multnomah County students, Future Connect has enrolled more than 600 students, which included an 2013 expansion into adjacent Washington County.
Students enroll as a cohort each fall and stay with the program from two to four years, depending on their goals and needs. Not only are Future Connect graduates continuing studies at places like Portland State, Pacific University, Lewis & Clark College, Oregon State University and Brigham Young University, they have interned with the legislature, local government and business; studied abroad; become student government leaders; and earned scholarships to universities.
Now sponsored by the cities of Portland, Beaverton and Hillsboro as well as the PCC Foundation, the Future Connect students are overwhelming low-income (90 percent), students of color (70 percent) and the first in their families to complete college (83%). But the initiative aims to eliminate those barriers by providing on-going support to help students once they get to school by building pathways to the future through scholarship money, career guidance and personal advising.
Christine Chairsell, the vice president for academic and student affairs at Portland Community College, recently wrote an Op-Ed piece which said, “Eighty percent of Future Connect students continue on to their second year of college. This is more than double the retention rate of students from similar backgrounds who don’t receive these services.”