Staff Report

Backed by individuals, foundations and businesses throughout the community, Hancock College has officially launched a five-year, $10 million endowment to fund The Hancock Promise.

The program provides high school graduates in the college district with the opportunity to get their first year free of tuition and fees at Hancock. Less than four months after unveiling The Hancock Promise, the college has received gifts and pledges to the endowment totaling more than $2 million.

“We are grateful for the overwhelming support from our Promise partners who see The Hancock Promise for what it is for our community, a game-changer,” said Hancock Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers. “When fully funded, this endowment will allow us to say that anyone who graduates from a high school within our district can receive a college education and their first year tuition-free at Allan Hancock College.”

Doris Lahr, the mother of Larry Lahr, a member of Hancock’s board of trustees since 1994, kicked off the endowment campaign with a gift in May. Since then, businesses and organizations including Pacific Gas and Electric, Marian Regional Medical Center, the Murphy Family Foundation, Union Bank and Aera Energy have offered pledges and gifts to support the endowment.

During a recent press conference, representatives of three community organizations announced their commitment to support The Hancock Promise.

Ronald Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation, reported that his board had approved a one-year grant of $250,000 to directly pay for the tuition and fees of Hancock Promise students.

The Rotary Club of Santa Ynez Valley and the Santa Maria Kiwanis 4 Kids Foundation also declared their gifts to the endowment.

“The goal of the Santa Maria Kiwanis 4 Kids Foundation is to ensure the success of children in the Santa Maria Valley,” said Maynard Silva, president of the Noontime Kiwanis Club of Santa Maria, whose group pledged $18,000 to the endowment. “The Hancock Promise will help thousands of students every year receive a college education.”

“We know The Hancock Promise will positively impact the community and are proud to support the program,” said Gregory A. Pensa, a member of the college board of trustees and a member of the Rotary Club of Santa Ynez Valley. “We challenge all other service groups in the community to do the same.”

The Hancock Promise begins this summer and is open to anyone who registers at Hancock immediately after graduating from a high school in the Hancock Joint Community College District, which includes the Santa Ynez Valley, Cuyama and the rest of northern Santa Barbara County. Promise students will save more than $1,200 in tuition and fees, receive priority registration and establish an academic plan for success with personalized counseling.

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