The Edmonds College Foundation raised over $277,000 in its first-ever virtual gala, exceeding its original goal of $230,000. For more than 35 years, the annual gala has raised funds to help students succeed in their educational journey through scholarships, emergency funding, and impactful programs.
“Edmonds College students are the future of our community. Our sponsors, donors, guests, volunteers, faculty, and staff have shown these students that we care about their present and future academic and career goals,” said Edmonds College President Dr. Amit B. Singh.
The 2020 INSPIRE virtual gala included many of the same elements of past live events: student speakers, a virtual dessert dash, online auctions, and contests and prizes.
“Once we knew the pandemic would make an in-person event impossible, we had to quickly pivot our efforts,” said Brad Thomas, the foundation’s executive director.
Proceeds from INSPIRE will help the foundation maintain its mission of helping more than 1,000 students stay in school. With COVID-19 putting many students out of work and their ability to afford school at risk, the need for support is greater than ever. Over the past six weeks, the foundation has provided 137 students with nearly $60,000 in emergency funding due to the impact of COVID-19 — twice the amount of emergency funding typically provided in a full year.
The event’s keynote student speaker was Brenda Obonyo, executive officer for the student government. Obonyo graduated in June and will attend the University of Washington this fall to pursue a degree in informatics. She is also the recipient of a scholarship and emergency funding through the foundation.
“Edmonds College is not just a place for education,” said Obonyo. “They don’t just care about my grades — no. They care about my well-being.”
The event’s title sponsor was Premera Blue Cross, which has steadfastly supported the foundation for more than 25 years. In addition, Boeing, the Associated Students of Edmonds College, Fortive, Kaiser Permanente, Comprehensive Wealth Management, Harbor Square Athletic Club, and over 20 other organizations supported the event, with many hosting virtual table events with their guests via Zoom.