Better for our students. Better for our community.

People throughout Onondaga County want a better life – and they believe in their ability to create one through education. Life circumstances and a lack of college-ready skills cause too many students to fall short of their goals. With this campaign, we’re asking you to believe in them – believe in their ability to achieve a better life with the right support and believe in the power of education to create a better community.

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Better Preparation

for college


Better Access

to support


Better Skills

to join the workforce


Better Pathways

to bachelor's degrees


Better Preparation for College

Students who took college courses in high school are 10% more likely to complete a Bachelor's degree 

The promise of a tuition-free education removes a significant financial barrier for families whose household budgets have little room for college savings. Unfortunately, financial access to college doesn’t mean students and parents are prepared for this next step. Research provides us with clear indicators of successful habits and behaviors that begin as early as elementary school. Our core institutional value of “putting students first” means engaging in partnerships with our local school district partners to help students develop these traits even before they think about choosing a college.

What we're doing to help
  • Math and reading enrichment activities that connect OCC with elementary and middle schools in the Syracuse City School District
  • Provide high school students with rewards for good attendance, solid grades and community service
  • Provide support through interventions and acceleration strategies
  • Reducing out of pocket costs for early college credits
  • Help parents and students understand the application, financial aid and registration process

A Family's Plan for College

The Walters family knows an outstanding opportunity when it sees one. The new OCC Advantage program is as good as it gets. “It’s a gift. It’s incredible,” said Kate Walters. “We’re thrilled for all the hard work everyone did for us to be able to participate in this.” Read the rest of the Walters' family story.

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Better Access to Support

65% of students drop a class because of the price of textbooks

The possibility of a better life should be available to everyone in our community, but things like the lack of a true support system, a difficult upbringing, financial stresses, or family situations can stand in the way. Expensive textbooks might be just an annoyance for some but can be a huge burden, standing in the way of an education for others. OCC is looking to remove these potential barriers by providing better access to the support systems many of our students need to complete their education.

What we're doing to help
  • Gathering emergency funding for books, transportation, childcare and housing
  • Supporting OCC’s on campus food pantry
  • Developing resources for financial literacy programs
  • Connecting students in need with community services and agencies

Succeeding @ OCC

It’s never too late to get it right. Chris White is proof. He’s a 35-year-old student who is the proud father of a soon-to-be 2-year-old daughter. He’s a high honors student who will earn his first college degree next summer. He’s also a survivor of the life he used to live. Read more of Chris's story.

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Better Skills to Join the Workforce

Syracuse’s poverty rate is the
13th highest in the country 

It is an inescapable fact that Central New York faces pockets of poverty in both rural and urban areas that rank among the highest in the nation; more than a quarter of our working-age population is in need of a job or a better-paying job; and as many as half the children in parts of our area live in poverty. OCC is dedicated to reversing these trends and building a better future for our community through its workforce improvement efforts.

What we're doing to help
  • Funding to support career exploration and job shadowing 
  • Applied learning grants for apprenticeships and internships
  • Equipping our teaching spaces with relevant technology and materials
  • Grants to reduce out-of-pocket costs for adult students in workforce training programs

Manufacturing a New Career

Thanks to a program at Onondaga Community College, Danny Dziadula was able to begin his new career two-and-a-half years later at Inficon, a global company which provides world-class instruments for gas analysis. Its growing facility is just south of the shuttered New Process Gear factory off Fly Road in East Syracuse. Read more about Danny's experience.

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Better Pathways to Bachelor's Degrees

63% of jobs in New York State require some form of post-secondary education

We know that once someone earns a degree, the educational attainment level of the entire family is increased, broadening its impact with every generation. The path to earning a degree can be difficult though. It's our goal to develop initiatives that help students complete their degree, enriches the process of earning it, and opens the door to taking their education, and their entire family's education, even further.

What we're doing to help
  • Opportunities for experiential learning such as study abroad and research experiences
  • A robust Honors College
  • Scholarships and completion grants for part-time study and summer courses 

Finding her path

“I’ve learned leadership and communication skills. This kind of leadership requires all of us to do things together, to have fun and to make a difference in campus and community life. I only have classes two days a week but I come to campus every day because I love being here with Phi Theta Kappa.” Read more about Mikayla's story.

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Contact us

Our team is ready to assist you. Don't hesitate to contact us with any comments, questions or concerns. 

Steffani Williams 
Director of the OCC Foundation 
[email protected] 
(315) 498-6062 

Campaign Steering Committee

Dennis Hebert“Onondaga was housed in a single building when I earned my degree in ‘67. The campus has changed dramatically since then, but the reasons for going to college haven’t. OCC gave me the opportunity to change the course of my life, to believe in better. At the time I never dreamt what an impact this would have. Today’s students deserve the same opportunity.”
- Dennis J. Hebert

Photo of Sandy and Peter

Honorary Campaign Chairs Sandra L. Baker and Peter G. King

  • Sandra L. Baker '80, Hon. Chair - Research and Marketing Strategies, Inc.
  • Peter G. King AIA, Hon. Chair – King and King Architects, LLP
  • Dennis J. Hebert CFP ‘67 Chair – Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC
  • Alicia S. Calagiovanni, Esq. – Costello, Cooney & Fearon, PLLC
  • Joseph Chemotti, CPA – Dannible & McKee, LLP
  • Judith R. Cowden – Kinney Drugs  
  • Patricia H. Deferio – MVP Healthcare  
  • Orrin B. MacMurray P.E. – C&S Companies
  • Lisa R. Moore – Onondaga Community College Foundation
  • Seth M. Mulligan – TCG Player
  • Hasoni Pratts – Community Leader
  • Mark W. Re ‘85  - Howard Hanna Real Estate
  • Edward M. Riley – Brine Wells Development, LLC    
  • James N. Seeley Esq. – Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC
  • Nicole Schlater – Onondaga Community College  
  • Kelly A. Venturini - Onondaga Community College Foundation 
  • Michael Mattson - Community Volunteer