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What’s the most (constructively) creative use of philanthropy you’ve seen at a college?

I say “constructively,” because most of us have heard stories of featherbedding, corruption, and “side door” admissions. That’s not the point at all. (Happily, community colleges have large enough front doors that side doors are unnecessary.) And I say “creative” because most of us are already familiar with scholarships and naming rights for buildings.

Community colleges, as a sector, are late to the party when it comes to private philanthropy. That’s a function of many factors, ranging from relative age of institutions to the relative lack of need in the early years. But after decades of public sector disinvestment, the sector is starting to appreciate that the private sector can offer opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available.

That said, while many donors respond -- and I”m glad they do! -- to calls for funding scholarships or buildings, some prospective donors may respond more enthusiastically to ideas that are slightly off the beaten path.  They want to support something that captures their imagination. And I’m not above imitating good ideas...

So, what’s the most constructively creative use of philanthropy you’ve seen at a college?

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