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Chair's Blog

How you can help today’s students become tomorrow’s business leaders October 2016
By DJ Wilson, KGW Media Group

At the Alliance, we believe in the critical connection between an educated workforce and economic growth. We know that a quality education for students is key to growing regional talent that can help attract, support and retain private-sector jobs. We’ve also seen in Value of Jobs reports that workers in the Portland-metro area with a college degree or higher have experienced real wage growth during the last 30 years, while wages for those with a high school diploma or some college have largely remained stagnant.
 
How then can we grow business leaders while helping more students in Oregon realize the dream of a four-year college degree? The Alliance consistently advocates for the right policies and initiatives that make higher education accessible to many, at the legislature and locally, evidenced by our support for funding measures for both Portland Community College and Mt. Hood Community College, as well as our ongoing work with four-year universities, including Portland State. In the meantime, there is an opportunity for every Alliance member to make a difference for a few students studying business today.
 
Starting this month, we are kicking off a crowdfunding effort for the Alliance’s Chair’s Scholarship, and we need your help! In your next annual dues invoice, you will see an optional line item of $10 to support the Chair’s Scholarship program.   
 
Since 1905, the Portland Chamber of Commerce has awarded student scholarships and the Chair’s Scholarship is a part of that tradition. The Chair’s Scholarship offers financial assistance to students in business-related fields through Oregon higher education institutions. Every year, the receiving school is determined by the outgoing board chair. I’m humbled to say that this year I will have that honor, but only if we can raise the funds to make it happen.
 
The Chair’s Scholarship was created in 2010 to honor Charles Wilhoite, managing director of Willamette Management Associates, as he stepped down as chair of the Alliance board. Charles is a passionate believer in higher education, and the board knew that creating a scholarship fund as his “thank you” gift for chairing the board would mean a lot to him. The board members themselves funded the scholarship and there was so much enthusiasm for the program that the board decided to make funding the scholarship program an annual tradition to honor the outgoing chair. Students at Portland State and the University of Oregon have benefited from the fund, and we want to not only keep the tradition going but to make it bigger by involving more members in the fundraising effort.
 
It is particularly fitting that all of this started under Charles Wilhoite’s leadership at the
Alliance because next month we are honoring him with the  William S. Naito Award for Outstanding Service at our annual Business Leadership Evening event. Charles has had a tremendous impact on our community, and I look forward to saluting him at this signature Alliance event. I hope you all will be part of our Chair’s Scholarship fund.
 
We will make it easy for you. All you have to do is check the box on your dues invoice, and we will add $10 to your bill. But any amount will be appreciated. Contributions to the Chair’s Scholarship will be administered by the Portland Business Alliance Charitable Alliance and, therefore, will be tax deductible.
 
Questions? Call Rebecca McCullough at 503.552.6759 or rmcculloch@portlandalliance.com.
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