Establish a Scholarship Fund

San Diegans are passionate about giving the gift of education. By establishing a Scholarship Fund with The San Diego Foundation, you receive a variety of services and the flexibility to choose the area of need that most interests you. You can also contribute to an existing scholarship fund, or give to The San Diego Foundation Community Scholarship Fund.

Most recently, The San Diego Foundation partnered with College Futures Foundation to launch a new partnership, the Community Scholars Initiative, which will help hundreds more low-income and first-generation students prepare for, pay for and persist through college.

When to Give

You can create your scholarship fund now, establish it through your will or create it through a trust arrangement. Tax deductions are earned at the time of your gift, while scholarships awarded continue into the future. You and your family members, colleagues and employees are encouraged to continue to give to the fund over time to help it grow.

What to Give

Almost any kind of asset may be used to start your scholarship fund, including cash, publicly traded securities, closely held stock, interests in limited partnerships, real estate, life insurance, personal property and private foundation assets.

Naming Your Fund

Scholarship funds can be created to honor or memorialize someone special, to honor the passions of an individual, or on behalf of a business or organization. Whatever the reason, your scholarship will carry the name you choose. If you prefer anonymity, you can choose a name that reflects your charitable purposes.

How it Works

Criteria: We assist with establishing scholarship criteria reflecting your passions and priorities. We use our experience and expertise to identify the best criteria to attract the most qualified applicants.

Recipient Selection: You can be as involved as you like in the recipient selection process. Our Scholarship Selection Committee — comprised of experts in education – can also put their years of experience to use for you.

Application & Materials: Each year we enhance our scholarship application, scrutinizing it to ensure we are asking the best questions to achieve the highest impact. We also create marketing and promotional materials to publicize the many scholarships offered.

Outreach: Our longstanding relationships with high schools, colleges, universities, and trade and vocational schools mean that your scholarship will be seen by thousands of students. We mail our application and promotional materials to our contacts countywide, post information on our highly-trafficked website, and use our media relationships to spread the word.

Administrative Management: We manage the administrative paperwork so that you can enjoy the experience giving the gift of education. We review and rank your applications, and even handle decision-making if you choose. Scholarship program administration can be overwhelming. Rules are ever-changing, with close IRS regulation. We stay current on all rules so you can engage in the most meaningful way. We also manage payments and tracking after selection to ensure your funds are appropriately used.

Scholarship Celebration Event: Upon selection, we host a Scholarship Celebration event so, if desired, you can meet and connect with the student(s) selected and learn about what receiving the scholarship means to them.

The San Diego Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization making all donations tax-exempt.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the minimum amount to open a fund?

The minimum to open a scholarship fund is $25,000. You may also contribute to an existing scholarship fund that matches your passion.

What are the fees involved?

The Foundation’s annual fee is 2%. We find this to be very competitive, especially when compared to most universities, which charge 5-6%.

What is the difference between an endowment and non-endowment fund?

Endowment funds are permanent funds where the principal is invested and grants made through interest, dividends and grants. Because the principal is not spent, the endowment funds provide scholarship assistance in perpetuity. Non-endowment funds are not permanent, where the entire fund is available immediately for grantmaking.

What size scholarship will I award?

It is entirely up to you. We only ask that you don’t award less than a $1,000 scholarship.

What criteria can I use to award scholarships?

The scholarship staff will work with you to find the best criteria to match your passion and attract the optimal number of applications. If you aren’t sure what type of scholarship you’d like to offer, our staff will be happy to review options with you.

Am I required to give out a certain amount of scholarships every year?

No, every year you have the option to award as many scholarships as you want, or none at all.

Can I be involved in the selection process?

Yes. There are some IRS rules that must be followed, but you can choose to be as involved as you’d like.

What kinds of scholarships are needed most?

The Foundation offers a wide variety of scholarships for graduating high school seniors, current college students, adult re-entry, and trade or vocational school students. As the cost of college continues to rise, the importance of scholarships for all types of students grows.

Will I hear from my recipient(s)?

Yes. You will receive thank you notes, progress reports and, if you choose, you may sit with your student at the annual Scholarship Celebration event. You also have the option to remain anonymous.

Can I direct a scholarship to a specific student?

No, per IRS rules there must be a competitive process. A particular student may not be pre-identified to receive a scholarship.

Is the scholarship paid to the student in cash?

No, a check will be made payable to the student’s school and applied toward the student’s account. This ensures your scholarship is used properly and for its intended purpose.

Can other people contribute to my scholarship fund?

Yes, and we encourage it! Your family, friends, coworkers, and others can all direct donations into your scholarship fund.

Can I direct my scholarship to a specific institution, college or university?

Yes, you can designate a particular college (perhaps your alma mater!) to receive your scholarship funds. The Foundation is happy to set up an annual payment to the institution of your choice.

What are the tax benefits of setting up a scholarship fund?

The tax benefits of setting up a scholarship fund are the same as establishing other funds through The Foundation. Contact us for more information.

Get Started: Open A Fund

Contact Our Scholarships Team

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