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Friday, January 22, 2021

Foundation for Pierce College threatened by financial woes

The future of the nonprofit organization of Pierce College is uncertain due to a lack of funds, which will result in an emergency meeting on Wednesday April 16 to create a plan of action.

The Foundation for Pierce College is a nonprofit organization that uses donations and grants to fund the college and to award scholarships to students.  All nine of the schools in the Los Angeles Community College District have foundations.

“The purpose of the Foundation is that it allows people to donate to the college,” said Mike Cornner, a previous board member for the Foundation. “You can deduct what you donate to the college from your income tax as a charitable donation.”

The Foundation’s office had a sign on the door Monday morning stating, “Foundation is closed until further notice. If you have questions, please contact the office of Rolf Schleicher.”  The note was later changed to “The Foundation for Pierce College will be closed on Fridays.”

Schleicher is the vice president of Administrative Services at the college. Linda Solar, Schleicher’s assistant, said “they have no information on the Foundation at this time.”

“It’s not closed. I don’t know why they’re closed today,” said Kathleen Burke, president of Pierce College. “The Foundation is not closed, the Foundation is running out of money and so they’re having trouble paying for their employees, but whether or not they have employees and whether or not the Foundation is being closed are two separate things.”

The Foundation’s income has been rocky since Dennis Washburn left in 2010.  He was the last full-time director of the Board of Directors for the Foundation. The position “went away because the school would not fund it anymore,” said Kathy Zanghi, account manager of the Foundation.

Brian Chase, who was a part-time paid director in 2010, and Floria Borzenkova have since stepped in.  According to Zanghi, for a while someone volunteered, but Borzenkova is currently acting as the full-time director with the title of senior program director.

“There are some colleges in the district that have foundations but no staff,” said Burke. “Any work that would be done by employees of the college’s Foundation would be done by employees of the college and the Foundation would pay them for their time working on Foundation things where they were not working on college things. They would pay them overtime, but the Foundation continues.”

In 2010, the Foundation for Pierce College had a revenue of $514,807, significantly less than the $616,095 revenue in 2009.  The income continued to drop in 2011, with the organization bringing in only $254,270.

“We are running out of general funds for many reasons and the administration is not in a position to financially help us because of budget cuts,” Zanghi said.

Burke said, however, that she is not the one in charge of the Foundation and the ultimate decision will need to be decided by the Foundation’s board.

“They do not work for me, they work for the Foundation board so that is up to the Foundation board. I believe they are having a meeting on Wednesday,” Burke said. “What I do know is they are running out of money so they have no way to pay the employees. So if you connect those dots, if you cannot pay your employees. That is really the Foundation board’s decision, not the College Board’s decision.”

There will be a Board of Director’s meeting for the Foundation on Wednesday in the Student Services Building at noon to discuss the future of the organization and options for fundraising.

“They are not employees of the district. It is a very defined relationship because they are an auxiliary organization so we cannot, by law, use some college funds to pay them,” said Burke. “The whole purpose of the organization would be to make money that we would not normally otherwise get so that’s really its role.”

The Foundation is still accepting applications for scholarships. An update on the Foundation from the Roundup News will be provided after the meeting on Wednesday.

Jessica Boyer
Staff Reporter - Spring 2014 Arts & Entertainment Editor - Spring 2014

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