College of the Desert has received $18 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the largest one-time grant in the College’s 60+ year history.

In her virtual announcement, MacKenzie Scott stated;

Because community-centered service is such a powerful catalyst and multiplier, we spent the first quarter of 2021 identifying and evaluating equity-oriented non-profit teams working in areas that have been neglected. The result was $2,739,000,000 in gifts to 286 high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked. Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity, so we looked for 2- and 4-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved.

“At College of the Desert we also recognize that higher education is a pathway to opportunity, and we have made a substantial investment in our EDGE/plEDGE program to support that opportunity for our community,” said Interim Superintendent/President Jeff Baker. “This amazing donation will allow us to support what we envision as a never-ending program that will allow future generations to pursue their dreams of a college education.”

EDGE/plEDGE provides local high school graduates with free tuition and fees for up to two years along with wrap around student support services to ensure students have the tools and resources needed to be successful at the College.

In the past, the EDGE/plEDGE program received financial support annually from the College of the Desert Alumni Association and College of the Desert Foundation, specifically the Richard Brooke Foundation. “We’ve always known that to make a lasting difference for our students and our community we must find a way to endow the program. And today we learned that we have received a donation that puts us well on our way to doing just that,” added President Baker.

Since 2017, EDGE/plEDGE has:

  • Increased the number of first-time, full-time college students from 40 to 85 percent;
  • Decreased the time it takes to complete a degree;
  • Increased degree and certificate attainment by 62 percent; and
  • Increased student transfer into four-year colleges by as much as 70 percent.

“The Board of Trustees and I are incredibly grateful to MacKenzie Scott and to all those that have supported us in our mission to make education accessible to everyone in our communities regardless of their background or economic status,” said Board Chair Aurora Wilson. “This historic gift will serve to increase access to education and training impacting the success of our students, and our communities for years to come.”