State and National Community College Organizations ‘Commit to Complete’ Oberndorf Scholarship Endowment

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Jackson, MS – The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), and the Community College League of California (CCLC) recently donated $15,000 to Phi Theta Kappa's Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship Endowment. Each organization contributed $5,000 to the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation, which is seeking funds to meet a second matching challenge to create a $500,000 endowment for the Oberndorf Scholarship.

2012-13 International President Ryan Austin Palmore welcomes ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown and Board Chair Jean Torgeson as they present a check to Justin Oberndorf and Foundation CEO Dr. Nancy Rieves during the 2013 Annual Convention.

The new completion scholarship, established by Rosemary and Lou Oberndorf, helps students facing unanticipated financial barriers to stay in college and complete their degrees. The Oberndorf program offers $20,000 annually in scholarships to community college students at risk of dropping out. Up to 10 scholarships of $500 each are awarded quarterly. Phi Theta Kappa members may learn more and apply online.

"We want to help those students who are so close to completing a credential or degree to finish what they start and not stop out. Students who stop out rarely complete," said Phi Theta Kappa's Executive Director and CEO, Dr. Rod A. Risley. "With the help of supporters like ACCT, AACC, and CCLC, 40 students annually will receive up to $500 each for books, gas, daycare, tuition – whatever the proven need – to complete their degrees."

"ACCT was pleased to be among the first national community college associations to support the Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship Fund and commends Phi Theta Kappa for its leadership on behalf of student success and achievement," said ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown.

Dr. Risley said the generous gifts from the three organizations capped off what has already been a stellar effort on their part toward the Community College Completion Challenge. This multi-organization effort was established after the leaders of Phi Theta Kappa, ACCT, AACC, the League for Innovation in the Community College, the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE), and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) signed a historic "Call to Action" to engage all stakeholders in supporting community college completion.

In response to the Call to Action, Phi Theta Kappa established the Community College Completion Corps – an army of scholars making personal commitments to complete and encouraging others to do the same. The Oberndorf Challenge provides a tangible way for organizations and individuals to contribute to college completion.

Now retired, Lou Oberndorf was a founder of Medical Education Technologies, Inc. (METI), now CAE Healthcare. METI products are used in many community colleges, as well as in the world's leading medical schools and in some 5,000 organizations worldwide. As CEO of METI, he was responsible for establishing the Frank Lanza Memorial Scholarships for community college students in health care fields. The Oberndorfs issued the Completion Scholarship Matching Challenge in November 2011, offering a one-to-one match if Phi Theta Kappa could raise $125,000.

Upon the announcement that the $125,000 goal had been reached, Rosemary and Lou Oberndorf then renewed the challenge for another one-to-one match, up to an additional $125,000, which will create a $500,000 endowment for the Lifeline to Completion Scholarship Program.

"The support we have received to match the generous gift from the Oberndorfs has been amazing," said Dr. Nancy Rieves, CEO of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation. "So far we've received large donations from members of our Board of Directors, Foundation Trustees, individual college presidents, our alumni -- including 2012 Distinguished Alumnus Wes Moore -- our chapters, regions and advisors, and now ACCT, AACC and the Community College League of California. We are very thankful for their dedication to helping students complete."

Dr. Rieves said the Foundation is within $24,500 of reaching the goal of securing the $500,000 Oberndorf Completion Scholarship Endowment by December 31.  She added that almost $30,000 has been contributed by college presidents and higher education organizations like AACC & ACCT; and more than $50,000 has been received from Phi Theta Kappa chapters, regions, and associations – a total of $80,000 from community college institutions and Phi Theta Kappa organizations.

Learn more about the Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship and make a gift online.

The Phi Theta Kappa Foundation is focused on long-term financial stability for Phi Theta Kappa. It is dependent upon the generosity of individuals, organizations, foundations and corporations to ensure its future through support of existing and establishment of new endowment funds. For more information on how to contribute to scholarships for Phi Theta Kappa members through the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation, visit the website or contact Dr. Nancy Rieves, Executive Director of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation, at 800.946.9995, ext. 3537.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in American higher education with 1,285 chapters on college campuses in all 50 of the United States, Canada, Germany, Peru, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates and U.S. territorial possessions. More than 2.5 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 135,000 students inducted annually.