The San Diego Foundation is in the midst of reviewing thousands of applications from a diverse array of students who need help to attain their educational goals.

College costs, family income, ethnicity and gender, as well as access to college success programs and college prep classes, all affect a student’s likelihood of enrolling in and finishing college.

According to, African-American students have the second lowest high school graduation rate – 69.2 percent – and the highest high school dropout rate  – 14.2 percent – in San Diego County.

In recognition of Black History Month in February, we are highlighting scholarships at The Foundation that specifically help African-American students.

What measures do you think San Diego should take to help decrease the higher education gap for African Americans in our community?
Let us know below in the comments!

Needs-Based Scholarships for African American Students

We believe that our region has an opportunity to provide more needs-based scholarships to encourage underrepresented youth from a variety of personal backgrounds to enter and succeed in college.

We thank the founders of the following funds for recognizing this need:

The Ruth E. Jenkins Scholarship
Ruth Jenkins, who worked as a maid, wanted to give black youth a chance to succeed through education. Her scholarship provides financial assistance to African-American students who have demonstrated their potential to make a major contribution to the development of the greater San Diego community.

Grandison M. Phelps, Jr. Memorial Scholarship
Susan Phelps established the scholarship in memory of her husband, an African-American Methodist minister. “He always encouraged people to have an education, pushing them to use education as a means of advancement,” she says. “He was especially interested in giving disadvantaged, African-American youth the boost they needed.”

[Tweet “#SanDiego has an opportunity to provide more needs-based #scholarships help underrepresented youth.”]

Jennifer Adams-Brooks Memorial Scholarship
At the time of her passing, Jennifer Adams-Brooks was the Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff for the San Diego Housing Commission, and the Chair of The San Diego Foundation Board of Governors. The scholarship supports female African-American students who are following in Jennifer’s footsteps of leadership and community involvement.

Leon and Margaret Williams Scholarship
The scholarship honors Leon Williams, the first African-American elected to the San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, and his wife, Margaret Williams, a life-long educator. The scholarship supports African-American students from San Diego County who are pursuing a career in healthcare.

Leon and Margaret Williams Scholarship Recipients

Leon and Margaret Williams Scholarship recipients pose at The San Diego Foundation annual scholarship luncheon.

Pearman Family Scholarship
Robert Pearman established this scholarship fund to honor the generation before him, who valued education and competitive athletics very highly. Robert wants to assist and encourage African-American students to pursue a college education. His fund offers scholarships to graduating high school seniors of African-American descent.

Tameka L. Henderson Memorial Scholarship
The Rev. and Mrs. Andre Henderson chose to honor their late daughter by helping African American students reach their academic goals. This scholarship benefits African American students who have a minimum 3.0 GPA, are solid citizens, and volunteer in the community.

The UC San Diego Black Alumni Scholarships
These funds (one for Arts and Humanities and the other for Engineering, Math and Science) were established to attract qualified African-American students to UC San Diego and support them through graduation. The UC San Diego Black Alumni Scholarship Board also works to support scholarship recipients with personal assistance.

Get Involved

Want to help underrepresented San Diego students succeed? Contact us at or contribute to our Needs-Based Scholarship Fund.

Contribute Today

What measures do you think San Diego should take to help decrease the higher education gap for African Americans in our community? Share your ideas in the comments below.

About Danielle Valenciano

Danielle ValencianoAs Director of Community Scholarships, Danielle and her team make higher education dreams a reality for hundreds of San Diego students each year. She serves donors who seek to support the educational aspirations of students and families who apply for scholarships each year. Danielle works closely with applicants to match their needs with funding opportunities, and taps the talents of the many volunteers who support the scholarship program.

Read more posts by Danielle