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Clark College Receives $1.5 Million Gift from the Firstenburg Foundation

June 2012 –
Clark College, Ridgefield, Washington


During commencement ceremonies honoring the largest graduating class in its history, Clark College (Clark) President, Robert K. Knight, announced the receipt of a generous gift of $1.5 million from the Firstenburg Foundation. The gift is earmarked for the college’s dental hygiene program and will add patient chairs to its training clinic, renovate existing spaces for a digital radiography suite and lab and add paperless charting software.


“Taught by an outstanding faculty, the dental hygiene program is recognized as a leader in training. Our students and graduates work in dental offices across our region. Clark students and alumni also serve as volunteers—helping children and adults who otherwise wouldn’t have access to dental care. This generous donation will have a huge impact—not only for our college—but for our community,” said Knight.


During the ceremony, Bill Firstenburg acknowledged his family’s commitment to the community and encouraged Clark graduates to give their time, talents and treasures. “My mother and father loved this community. They also believed strongly in the power of education. Clark College trains our workforce. Clark College educates our leaders. Clark College changes lives.”


“Everyone who is graduating tonight has benefitted from the support that Clark receives from its alumni and donors. You may never know their names, but they support Clark College because they believe in you. In the years to come—and as you are able—we hope you will pay it forward. We hope that you will turn your belief into action by supporting tomorrow’s students,” said Firstenburg.


The Firstenburg Foundation gift allows the college to increase the number of patient chairs in its teaching clinic by six, increasing the available slots for new students each academic year to 30. The addition of paperless charting technology and an advanced radiology suite, allows students to graduate workforce ready. In addition, the expansion will allow for compliance with federal patient privacy and confidentiality requirements.


Lisa Gibert, president/CEO of Clark College Foundation said, “The Firstenburg Foundation is a champion for education, health care, youth, seniors, social justice, the arts and more. The gift we’re announcing tonight will expand Clark’s outreach into the greater community by giving more students the tools they need to care for underserved patients. The Firstenburgs are directly impacting the health and wellness of the residents of Southwest Washington and for that, we are truly grateful.”


Clark College Vice President for Development and leader of the project’s fundraising efforts, Ara Serjoie, echoed the value of the Firstenburg Foundation’s generous donation. “Clark Dental Hygiene students will be prepared on day one of their jobs to use the most current technology and tools in the dental industry because of the generosity of the Firstenburg Foundation,” said Serjoie.


This is the third largest gift the Clark College Foundation has received in its 39-year history. Other large financial contributions include Roy and Virginia Andersen ($13 million, $12 million and $3 million – totaling $28 million) and the estate of Hilma Speights ($4 million).


Established in 1973, the Clark College Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt public charity. It serves as the fundraising arm of Clark College to support student access to educational programs and services. It is nationally recognized for excellence in superior fundraising programs.


The Clements Group assisted Clark College with its most recent major gifts campaign. For more information regarding Clark College’s fundraising efforts, visit the college website at or contact Clark College Vice President of Development, Ara Serjoie at or Clark College Foundation President, Lisa Gibert at


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