The Valley alumnus returned to the college to revitalize the foundation, funding millions for students.
By Nicholas Orozco, Special to the Star
On May 5, Raul Castillo passed away peacefully in his Burbank home after a long battle with cancer. He was 54.
Castillo was a significant help to Valley College’s foundation as he saw through monumental amounts of funds donated to support students and programs.
“The foundation was his baby,” said President Barry Gribbons about the passing of Castillo. “He nurtured and supported it. He grew it to an organization that now has — with the Heyman gift — close to $10 million. That's just an incredible legacy to help support our students with the programs.”
Born in the Philippines on Feb. 14, 1968, he and his family later migrated to Echo Park, finally settling in Arleta. A graduate from St. Genevieve High School, he attended Valley, receiving his associate’s degree in economics. Following his time in Valley Glen, he went on to attend California State University, Dominguez Hills, where he received his bachelor’s degree in business administration and his master’s degree in public administration.
After finishing his education, he returned to Valley to support students and programs on campus. He returned as executive director of the foundation, where he continued to support students until his passing. He helped the LAVC Foundation receive more than $8 million, which invested in the students and programs.
“He spent a lot of time and energy supporting the college and the foundation and nurturing different gifts to help support people,” said Gribbons. “He just had a tremendous impact.”
Before his death, Castillo was a guest star on The Valley College Connection podcast, hosted by Valley professors John Kawai and Scott Weigand. Castillo talked about his life, his roots and his school experience, as well as when he started at the foundation. When being interviewed for the executive director position, he explained that the foundation was only him, an assistant and student workers.
“I came in with a lot of grand boasts of ideas because I was thinking of Valley College, I was also thinking UCLA and Cal State Dominguez Hills,” said the late Castillo. “I quickly realized community college fundraising versus four-year university fundraisings are apples and oranges. Very different.”
He wanted to build the foundation from the ground up and be as strong as a foundation at the university level. When he started as executive director, the organization's endowments were close to $300,000. Now the total reaches $8 million, and it is still growing.
“If you’re talking about my legacy, my legacy is that I’ve been privileged to work at Valley College,” said Castillo in the podcast. “After I leave Valley College, I feel that work will continue to be there. That will be built upon what has already been laid.”
He is survived by his stepchildren, parents, sisters, nephew and his wife of 21 years, Marivic Reyes-Castillo.
“We’ll all miss him deeply and appreciate the time that we did have getting to know Raul and calling him a colleague and friend,” said Gribbons.