In a Donor’s Words: An Interview with Contra Costa Community College Board Trustee Rebecca Barrett

Tell us about your history with the district and Contra Costa College.

The Contra Costa Community College District has done a lot for me. Academically, it helped me grow greatly and provided me with the best college experience. I transferred to UCLA, but that time didn’t compare to my community college experience: the smaller class sizes, personal relationships I developed with students and faculty and the overall deeper sense of community I felt. That positive experience is why I ran for Governing Board.

When and why did you first donate to the CCC Foundation?

I believe that those of us in leadership roles should give back. It’s a no brainer to me. A few years ago, I started giving $5/month to each of the college foundations. I’ve seen in action how they all play an important role in the greater college ecosystem.

And then, my credit card expired. The CCC Foundation asked me to share the new information. And then followed up. I think they even followed up one more time. Truth is, people like me give because they are asked and the CCC Foundation helped to make the whole process easy. After that, I decided to increase my gift to $50/month.

Watching the Foundation, I am consistently impressed with how the staff and Board keep the energy, passion and human face to all of its fundraising and student support efforts. It inspires people to want to step up more. The volunteer Board members are amazing, and navigate their role in the community really well. So I’m happy to support them.

But what it boils down to is that the CCC Foundation does a really good job of supporting the many, many needs of our students. Our students really need the basics – housing, textbooks, food, debt relief– but there are times when a broad brush misses the nuances around those needs, and the CCC Foundation is genuinely paying attention to those nuances. The CCC Foundation is a convener helping donors like me find avenues to have an impact — a homeless LGBTQ student’s needs are unique, and the Foundation understands that.

What would you say to someone considering their first gift to the Foundation?

Here is what I would say: I think we all understand that the need is really great right now, particularly as we come out of COVID. But what I hope sticks with people is that by supporting students at CCC, you influence your own community in a specific, vitally important way. There are many organizations that you could give money to that are worthwhile. But supporting locally, and focusing on supporting people on a path to making their own lives better—people who need a little help to get there—is the way to go.

And Richmond and San Pablo are often overlooked. Lots of statewide groups love Oakland, San Francisco and the Central Valley. But the needs of students here in our county are just as real. Anyone thinking of becoming a donor to the CCC Foundation becomes a genuine “hyperlocal champion” for Contra Costa County. I guarantee that if they do, they will feel the rewards of that generosity.