Facing continuing budget cuts, the Yosemite Community College District has looked to outside sources and recorded its best year yet for grant funding.
In the 2011-12 school year, the parent district of Modesto Junior College and Columbia College raised $20.5 million in grants. That's up by more than $6.6 million from the previous year.
YCCD Chancellor Joan Smith said raising money outside of traditional funding is crucial at a time community colleges are seeing their funding slashed.
"The demand on us from students is more than ever, and the resources are less than ever," she said.
The YCCD's unrestricted budget has dropped from $115 million to $85 million last year and $79 million this year.
At the same time, the number of students the state provides funding for has declined. But Smith said the colleges continue to serve more students.
This year, the state funded MJC as if it had 15,000 full-time equivalent students, but the school served more than 17,000.
"We're still trying to serve the same number we've been serving," Smith said. "So we're working to supplement our funding with grants."
The grants were a mix of federal, state and private awards. They were given for everything from mental health to career education and staff development.
The largest grants were $8 million from the First 5 California program and $3 million from the state's Child Development Training Consortium.
MJC received two grants of more than $800,000 each. One was a federal Hispanic-Serving Institutions program grant, and the other was for vocational technical education.
The district has $3.5 million in grants submitted or pending for the 2012-13 school year.
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2284.