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Santa Monica College's Black Collegians Program Gets Private $325,000 Gift
By Lookout Staff
February 27, 2020 -- Santa Monica College's (SMC) Black Collegians Program has received a $325,000 donation to establish an endowment and an annual program fund for the 30-year-old organization, school officials announced.
The gift from Ann Wang -- who oversees the Wang Joint Living Trust established by her in-laws -- will provide greater opportunities for SMC’s African American students, who make up about 9 percent of the student body.
Wang’s gift provides $25,000 to support the Black Collegians Program Fund and $300,000 to establish a new endowment to support the program.
The gift will help support food security programs, provide emergency funds and textbooks, fund professional development efforts, bring guest speakers to campus and support mental health counseling.
Sherri Bradford, Black Collegians faculty leader, said Wang’s gift can “provide the access that our students deserve.”
"A gift like this creates opportunities that can be life-changing in the lives of our Black Collegians students," Bradford said. "It allows our program the opportunity to do things that we have only dreamed about.”
Wang learned about the program from her long-time RAND colleague, Iao Katagiri, who retired in 2016 as the Santa Monica-based think tank's community relations director.
Wang eventually toured SMC's main campus and dropped by several classrooms and programs, including the Black Collegians Umoja Community office, where several students shared their life stories.
“I was just blown away by the passion and commitment -- not just of the grown-ups in the room but also of the students themselves," Wang said.
"I learned about some of the heartbreaking things these students have had to overcome, and what they have to fight every single day of their lives to get an education,” said Wang.
“I thought ‘This is what I want to do.’”
On her birthday, Wang returned to the Collegians office in the new SMC Student Services Center and delivered the news.
It was the best birthday present to “give people what they need,” she said. “We all cried.”
For more information about SMC’s Black Collegians Umoja Community, visit smc.edu/BlackCollegians.
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