Patricia L. Nickols Butler Serves Local Student Needs
Many San Bernardino Valley College students that would otherwise struggle to make ends meet between paychecks don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner, thanks to Patricia L. Nickols Butler.
Since coming on board with the SBVC Foundation three years ago, one of her top concerns has been getting food to hungry students.
Mrs. Nickols-Butler has served at the helm of the Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County since 1992. In recent years, she said two poverty symposiums held at local college campuses have revealed the extent of student need for both food and hygiene projects.
“What we were hearing from the students in attendance is that a lot of them were attending classes, and had no resources for food. Food insecurity was a big issue among the college students,” said Nickols-Butler, president and CEO of the CAPSB.
Nationwide, estimates are that about half of all college students face food insecurity, which is linked to lower grades and higher dropout rates.
Through her organization and in partnership with SBVC, students are now making the most of the college Campus Cupboard.
She said one of the major goals and responsibilities of Foundation Board members is assisting with fundraising efforts to help support the activities of the students.
Throughout the year, the foundation also hosts a number of other events to help draw in community participation, and raise the money needed to keep student programs going strong.
“Those opportunities come about as a result of identifying funding mechanisms for programs like that,” she said. “We do a golf tournament, we do the Taste & Tour event held on campus. Our goal is to support the important programs that impact the students through our fundraising efforts.”
One good example of the foundation success is found in the Free College Promise, which starting in the fall offers full tuition for full-time students for two years at SBVC or Crafton Hills College, totally free of any cost.
“It’s a huge benefit for qualifying students in the community,” she said.
Initially, Nickols-Butler was invited to the seat on the Foundation by longtime anti-poverty activist, Lois Carson, who recently termed off the Board after serving decades on the SBVC Foundation and the SBCCD Board of Trustees.
Over the years, Ms. Nickols Butler has also reached hundreds of thousands within the low-income community with vital services through local partners.
She is past Vice Chair of the San Bernardino County Interagency Council on Homelessness, and has served Arrowhead United Way, and the California Association of Food Banks.
Last year alone, CAPSB worked with over 200 county nonprofits to provide food to nearly 285,000 needy families.
She said hunger remains a major barrier to education, in as much as it’s tough to concentrate on an empty stomach.
“My heart is really serving the low-income population and creating opportunities for them to achieve economic self-sufficiency,” she said. “It’s giving everyone an opportunity to achieve their dream.”