Spotlight: Cuesta Foundation

SESLOC Spotlight: Cuesta College Foundation

SESLOC Spotlight highlights local organizations that make the Central Coast the best place to live.

Today we’re shining the spotlight on the Cuesta College Foundation — a nonprofit committed to keeping higher education accessible and affordable, and to open career paths in our community. Shannon Hill, Executive Director, explains how the Foundation makes that possible:

Cuesta College Foundation

Industry: Nonprofit

Serving the Central Coast since: 1971

How many employees? 6

How many volunteers? 40 on our Board of Directors

What’s your mission? The Cuesta College Foundation ensures the greatest educational opportunities for student access and success by:

  • Providing the highest level of support and philanthropic opportunities
  • Serving as a liaison between the college and the community
  • Enhancing the college’s visibility and stature
  • Advocating for community colleges
  • Fostering a creative and rewarding environment for students, faculty, staff, and volunteers

What’s unique about the Cuesta College Foundation? We are one of the largest community college foundations in the state, and recognized nationally for our performance. We give out over $750,000 each year to students in scholarships — including the Cuesta College Promise, which offers two years of free college to new high school graduates in SLO County. Supporting scholarships goes a long way st Cuesta. At only $46 per unit, less than $2,000 can pay for an entire year’s tuition!

We also support the excellent student and academic programs at Cuesta. Donors give support to specific areas of study, facilities and capital projects, basic needs for students, and technology.

As a successful junior college nonprofit in a world of bigger university fundraising, our uniqueness lies in the face that we are small enough to work with everyone personally, but large enough to leverage resources for investments and planned giving. We have no gift fees, over $30 million in our endowment, and stand ready to serve San Luis Obispo County’s higher education needs.

What do you attribute to your success? Community colleges in general touch so many parts of our community. We develop the local workforce, transfer students to universities, and serve life-long learners and students of all ages. Almost every industry hires Cuesta graduates in our region. We match people’s passion to build our community with the resources they are able to share.

We pair that breadth of mission with excellence in our staffing and commitment to ethical and transparent relationships, and decades later, we have a successful nonprofit growing with the community’s support.

What advice would you give someone interested in supporting your mission? Call us. We want to know what you are looking for in supporting students and programs at Cuesta. Our goal is to build a partnership with you supporting educational access in our community. That can take many forms, so do not hesitate to ask us, no matter the size or complexity.

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