Merced College will benefit from the largest philanthropic gift to community colleges in the nation to date. The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, in partnership with the Foundation for California Community Colleges (FoundationCCC), announced a $100 million pledge over 20 years that will help eliminate regional educational gaps by providing scholarships to students who are well on their way toward a finish-line goal of completing a certificate or degree at a California community college or transferring to a university and emergency financial aid to students facing unexpected financial hardships.

The Finish Line Scholars Program is being made possible by a donation from the Jay Pritzker Foundation to the FoundationCCC, which serves as the official nonprofit auxiliary to the California Community Colleges. For the first five years, FoundationCCC will deliver grants to 34 community colleges in the three regions of California with the lowest percentage of adults who have college degrees. Merced College is among those eligible for a grant of up to $150,000 in the first year.

“Merced College is thrilled to be a part of this generous gift,” said Merced College President Chris Vitelli. “We will work to put these funds in the hands of those who need it most to transform their lives through higher education.”

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students, 100% of the first year’s grants may be used by colleges to provide students emergency financial aid.

In future years, colleges may be eligible for grants to support some combination of scholarships and emergency financial aid. The scholarship amount of up to $18,500 per student per year is intended to cover the estimated true cost of a student’s community college education which includes such costs as textbooks, instructional materials, transportation, housing, childcare, and food. Emergency financial id will be flexible to help students overcome short-term financial barriers.

“This level of philanthropy is extraordinary for community colleges, not just in California but in the nation,” said Eloy Ortiz Oakley, Chancellor of the California Community Colleges. “I hope this donation will inspire other donors to support community colleges, which are the primary engine of social mobility in our nation.”

For more information, please contact the Office of External Relations at or (209) 381-6176.