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Pomona College Unveils New Draper Center for Community Partnerships

A range of community outreach initiatives at Pomona College have been brought together under one roof this fall as part of a new center committed to building and strengthening partnerships between the College and the community, thanks to a significant gift from alumnus Ranney Draper, his wife, Priscilla Draper, and the Draper Family Foundation.

The new Draper Center for Community Partnerships, which will be dedicated on October 8, is the centerpiece of a new initiative to enhance student learning, faculty teaching and research at Pomona, as well as the quality of life in surrounding communities, through an integrated and collaborative program of community partnerships. The mission of the new Draper Center is to foster mutually beneficial exchanges among community members, students, faculty and staff in order to support educational outreach initiatives, community-based research and learning, and other community-based work activities. The Draper Center will bring together numerous existing programs that connect Pomona College with local communities and create new ones.

Existing programs include the Pomona Academy for Youth Success (PAYS), a free summer college prep program for local high school students; Pomona Partners, now in its 15th year, in which Pomona College student volunteers provide weekly after-school activities at Fremont Middle School in the city of Pomona; Theater for Young Audiences, a partnership between Fremont Middle School, Pomona College’s Department of Theatre and Dance and the Pomona Unified School District; and the College Bound Saturday School program, a math- and writing-intensive program helping area students prepare for college; as well as episodic volunteer opportunities. Each year these programs provide skills training and tutoring for hundreds of local students.

The Draper gift, the amount of which is not being released, will provide a significant endowment supporting the Center’s operations as its staff works to cultivate a stronger culture of social responsibility and community engagement on the Pomona College campus. These efforts will be guided, in part, by a new Draper Center Advisory Board made up of community leaders, faculty, staff, trustees and students.

“Community service and leadership training are vital parts of a Pomona College education,” said David W. Oxtoby, president of Pomona College. “In fact, it is carved into our gates that ‘They only are loyal to this college who, departing, bear their added riches in trust for mankind.’ This generous gift ensures that we will be able to build on the successful programs we provide to children and teens in our area and will allow us to build new bridges to the community, providing our students with more opportunities to share their knowledge and build leadership skills.”

Ranney Draper, who has been a member of the Pomona College Board of Trustees since 1984, earned his bachelor’s degree in history at Pomona in 1960. Since then, he has had a long career in California real estate. Residents of Orange County, Ranney and Priscilla Draper have for the past decade devoted a great deal of time and resources to supporting community-building educational programs in their own community and at Pomona College, founding a number of Pomona’s existing outreach initiatives and helping to sustain and build a dynamic program with their ongoing support.

“I believe great colleges like Pomona have a responsibility to be engaged in the wider community, to make a difference in the lives of the people who live there,” Draper said. “I’m excited to be involved with this new center because that’s exactly what it represents—the college and the community recommitting themselves to work as partners to improve people’s lives."