Opinion

Non-mandated funding important to Cook County Higher Education

Cook County Higher Education (CCHE) is one of several non-profits that receive non-mandated county funding. The county has provided funding contributions for CCHE since 1999. The initial $5,000 grant was increased to $10,000 the following year, reduced to $9,500 in 2006, and increased to $15,000 in 2012. This year we were cut back to $10,000.

Like most nonprofits, every year raises the question of whether we will have sufficient funds to provide the services so critical to our community. CCHE is deeply dependent on state funding, grant support, and donations. Our annual $120,000 state funding makes up the bulk of our revenue and the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation a generous second with $60,000 dedicated to student support services and $20,000 going directly to students as scholarships.

None of those funds are guaranteed, are often leveraged thanks to county support, and must be lobbied for, applied for, and requested. Keeping nonprofits alive and prospering is hard work.

The value? CCHE has had an impressive impact on our community’s economics. At our North Shore campus we annually offer certificate and training programs that result in living wage employment. Many residents are enrolled in degree programs providing new career opportunities in our community or to increase wages at their current employment.

CCHE has an average of 75 enrolled students per year. These are adults who are living and working in this community, some of whom were living at or below the poverty level and all of whom are incredible, wonderful contributors to the health and wellbeing of our dynamic county. They are raising families here, caring for elderly parents, and volunteering for nonprofits.

Some of our nursing programs have actually attracted young people to the community, much as any college campus would, and those students have stayed and made their home here.

The lifelong learning programs we offer add depth and breadth to our community by addressing topical issues that challenge our thinking and stimulate ideas for a better future.

If CCHE lost its funding residents would have to relocate to pursue their educational goals and dreams. Higher education in Cook County creates a community attractive to current and potential residents.

I hope that community members who believe in and utilize CCHE programs and services will contact their county commissioner and lobby for non-mandated funding for nonprofits. Our future as an educated community depends on your support.

If you would like more information about CCHE, please visit our web site at www.northshorecampus.org or give us a call at 387-3411. Thank you so much.

Paula Sundet Wolf
Executive Director
Cook County Higher Education


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