Classroom to honor family’s long-standing generosity

Accepting the Bill and Judy Garrett Civic Leadership Award from the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges in 2018 were Lisa Wilson and her daughter, Jessica, on behalf of the Rice Family Foundation.

Cuyamaca College is naming a classroom in the Ornamental Horticulture Complex after a longtime benefactor which re­cently endowed the college dis­trict’s Promise Plus program $100,000 for student scholar­ships.

The Governing Board ap­proved the classroom dedication recently in recognition of the decades-long support of the Rice Family Foundation, which has donated more than $1 million to Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges over the years, particu­larly the horticulture program.

A plaque will be posted out­side a classroom in the complex currently under renovation as part of the college district’s Proposition V construction bond program. The $16.7 million proj­ect, scheduled to be completed in fall 2020, will include updated facilities, well-equipped green­houses, an outdoor instructional area and expanded retail space for the college nursery.

In 2018, the Rice Fam­ily Foundation was lauded by the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges and presented with the Bill and Judy Garrett Civic Leadership Award for its years of support for Cuyamaca and Grossmont College students.

This time, the foundation cre­ated by the late Morgan Rice, a San Diego real estate inves­tor, is being recognized by the college district for its support of Promise Plus, a scholarship program to help students at the East County community colleg­es reach their education goals.

Promise Plus Scholarships were created by the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges to provide critically needed scholarships to students at both colleges. The scholarships are targeting new full-time college students, adults returning to college to improve their work­force skills and students trans­ferring from Adult School. Prior­ity will be given to students with financial need.

The Rice Family Founda­tion’s pledge of $100,000 over five years follows a tradition dating back to the md-‘90s when the Morgan Rice Intern­ship Program was established to provide Cuyamaca College students practical work experi­ence in nursery production and sales. The Rice Family Founda­tion continues to fund the pro­gram, along with scholarships to students in the Ornamental Horticulture program.

“The Foundation’s support of our Ornamental Horticulture program has served the com­munity and countless students for many years,” said Cuyama­ca College President Julianna Barnes. “This latest gift will provide additional support for our students; we are grateful for their continued support and are pleased to be able to name a classroom in their honor.”

Lisa Wilson, Morgan Rice’s niece, said the mission of Prom­ise Plus is in keeping with the philosophy of the charitable foundation created by her un­cle. She said her uncle, who died in 2004, was once a high school teacher in El Centro and believed in the transformative power of education. The empha­sis of funding and grants from his foundation is on education, particularly programs benefit­ting San Diego County’s needi­est populations. Beneficiaries include Balboa Park museums, the San Diego Zoo, K-12 and higher education programs, and others focusing on literacy, mu­sic and the arts.

“We have always felt a strong connection to both Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges and our foundation board believes that higher education is a really im­portant cause to support,” Wil­son said. “There are so many young students who can’t afford to go to college and the Promise Plus program is a great way to help.”

Since the early 2000s, the Grossmont College Theatre Arts Department has benefitted from the Rice Family Founda­tion’s financial support of the college’s touring program that brings the performing arts to more than 8,000 children every year at 16 East County elemen­tary schools. The Heritage of the Americas Museum and the Wa­ter Conservation Garden, both located at Cuyamaca College, also receive foundation dollars.

She added her uncle was an outdoorsman with a keen inter­est in horticulture and geology. His connection to Cuyamaca stems from his long friendship with Governing Board trustee and former Ornamental Hor­ticulture program chair Brad Monroe. The pair became ac­quainted after Rice, who at one time owned most of the land parcels on San Miguel Mountain near the college, contacted Monroe about donating a cargo shipping container he no longer needed. From that contact, a friendship and an enduring rela­tionship with the college district was born.