Direct Mail Fundraising Letter
El Camino Community College Foundation, November, 1999


When you hear the term "college student," what do you picture? Eighteen-year-olds with backpacks? Or maybe older people returning to school after retirement?

These are both real examples, but what about a single mother who is trying to give herself the skills she'll need to support her family? Or the middle-manager who has been "downsized" out of a job? Or a 50-year-old executive who needs to boost his technological savvy to compete with kids half his age?

At El Camino College, these are today's students, and serving them is our mission. Our students are from all walks of life. They're your friends, your neighbors, your family.

I hope you will join me in giving El Camino College the resources it needs to help South Bay residents make their lives better and more productive.

  • Help us provide job training for that single mother.
  • Help us provide low-cost education for those who can't afford a four-year university.
  • Help us send people on to prestigious four-year universities such as UCLA and USC by providing them with affordable, high quality education for their first few years of college.
  • Help us foster a healthy business community in the South Bay with resources for employers.
  • And help us fill in the gaps in California's education system with remedial education for students entering the Cal State system.

El Camino and Remedial Education

You may have seen stories in the local media about the disturbing number of Californian students who are admitted to the California State System, but who can't pass the placement exams. They're caught in a system that has not served them well, and no matter what you think the cause is, California's college students need our help.

I believe El Camino and its peers in the community college system have an important role to play in giving students the help they need to go on to four-year schools. With your help, we can fill in the gaps in California's troubled public school system and foster opportunity for the future of California.

El Camino is a Resource for all California's College Students

We can also fill in the gaps in a student's or parent's budget, by providing quality education for the first two years of school. With our affordable classes, students can drastically reduce the cost of a college education by fulfilling their general education requirements at El Camino.

In fact, El Camino is ranked third in the state for transfer students going on to UCLA and USC, and we're in the top 10 California colleges for students transferring to the Cal State System. Schools like these reserve places for transfers, because they know students who go to community college are prepared, and serious about an education.

By sending students on to these excellent schools, we're helping to prepare the next generation of California's leaders. And we're helping kids who may not be able to afford a college education any other way.

El Camino and Vocational Training

But we're much more than a transitional step on the way to a four-year college. El Camino is also an important resource for those seeking the training they need to enter a new career. Our vocational training programs are a desperately needed resource for thousands of people seeking the work skills they need to compete.

And with the support of people like you, nearly 1,000 disabled students per year enter the workforce because of the training we provide, and our program for the disabled is one of the top 10 in the United States.

We also offer more than 30 different certificate programs in areas such as nursing, electronics and computer-aided design, all geared toward preparing students for well-paying careers. And our English as a Second Language program helps California's diverse population gain the communications skills they need in today's business climate.

El Camino and the Future of Business

As a South Bay resident, you can be proud of the educational resource you have here. Not only are we a great school, we're a valuable resource for local businesses. A part of our mission that you may not have considered is economic development -- advancing California's economic growth and global competitiveness through education, training, and services that contribute to work force improvement. El Camino continually looks forward to the challenges we will face in the coming years, and tries to address those challenges through our programs.

We develop innovative programs to fill the needs of the business community as they move into new fields such as biotechnology, computer-integrated manufacturing, and new environmental technologies. We find ways to help small companies, foster international trade, and improve health care delivery.

In short, with the support of donors like you, El Camino is addressing the challenges of the future, and helping to position the South Bay at the forefront of the next wave in business and technology.

El Camino and the Future of Education

We're already a pioneer in the next wave of educational technologies, too. Not only have we supported distance learning via courses offered on television since the 1970s, we were also one of the first colleges to offer classes online.

Now we're moving to the next step with our California Virtual Campus Center, which will serve as a central resource for students pursuing their education online. In addition to hosting a Web site that lists all the distance education courses at participating schools in California, we will also offer online technical training and workshops for faculty.

El Camino is the South Bay's Cultural Resource

But we're not just about business, college prep, or vocational training, though. El Camino is also an important cultural resource for the South Bay Community. Our Joy of Music program, which began 20 years ago as a few short sessions to teach retirees the piano, is now one of El Camino's major community outreach programs.

And our Discovery Travel Series brings films to campus every month, bringing hundreds of people together for a fascinating look at cultural practices and celebrations, historical landmarks and scenic splendor, all in vibrant, colorful motion pictures.

Programs like these help to foster personal enrichment for our students and friends, and contribute to the South Bay's already-rich cultural life.

The Realities of State Supported Education

You may wonder why a community college is asking you for money. After all, aren't your taxpayer dollars already taking care of us? Unfortunately, the reality of state funding is that it covers just the basics -- the "mandated necessities" -- and those necessities grow all the time.

In truth, there is far more we need to do than is paid for by the state. Nearly every college and university -- UCLA and USC for example -- relies on private charitable support to achieve its mission.

Your support of El Camino College is a good investment. By providing quality, affordable education, vocational training, and cultural enrichment, we serve as a central resource for the South Bay community. We give people opportunity, help employers by training valuable employees, and fill in the gaps in our public school system by offering remedial education.

Please, won't you invest in the South Bay's future with a tax-deductible contribution to El Camino College? For a gift of $50 or more, we'll send you a gift certificate for two tickets to our Discovery Travel Series, as a token of our gratitude for your support.

At this time of year, I think we should all take the time to think about what's important in this world. I believe that education is the most important way we can improve lives and give people the skills they need to survive. I hope you will join me as a supporter of El Camino's programs by making your gift today.


James Arnett
President, El Camino College Foundation Board of Directors

P.S. Don't forget to send in your contribution by December 31st to deduct it from your 1999 taxes!

P.P.S. And be sure to participate in your employer's matching gift program if you can. You could double your contribution!