Not all San Diego students are afforded the same opportunities as their peers.

According to the San Diego Economic Development Corporation, the region’s Hispanic population is the fastest growing and will become the region’s largest ethnic group by 2030, yet they are also the least prepared to enter or complete college.

Additionally, a recent study from the Public Policy Institute of California revealed that only a fraction of students in California capable of earning a degree actually do.

That’s where Needs-Based Scholarships come in.

Commitment to Higher Education

Last year, through support from California’s College Futures Foundation, The San Diego Foundation, Reality Changers and the Sweetwater Unified High School District established the Community Scholars Initiative aimed at helping hundreds more low-income and first-generation students prepare for, pay for and persist through college.

Now in its second year of adoption, the Community Scholars Initiative leverages the Reality Changers College Apps Academy program and pairs needs-based scholarships with wraparound services, including academic tutoring, family support and counseling, to increase college access and success among San Diego students.

As part of this Community Scholars Initiative, counselors, teachers and staff at Southwest, Mar Vista and Chula Vista high schools receive specialized training that better equips them with the tools to support and advise students who need help the most.

[pullquote]Students in our community possess immense potential but oftentimes they face an uphill battle.[/pullquote]

“Students in our community possess immense potential but oftentimes they face an uphill battle due to challenges such as limited access to resources and the growing cost of higher education,” shared Filemón Jara, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Coordinator and Teacher at Mar Vista High School.

“We are excited by the Community Scholars Initiative because it’s one of the first times partners from multiple sectors are working together toward a comprehensive goal that addresses the complete needs of our young people.”

During the yearlong program, students are guided through the college application process and learn the soft skills that college life often demands, such as conflict management, time management and financial literacy.

Investing in Our Future

To date, more than 75 students have participated in the Community Scholars Initiative and received Needs-Based Scholarships to help them succeed at their respective colleges and universities.

In the coming years, the number of students impacted will continue to grow.

Through donor support, The San Diego Foundation hopes to expand the impact of the Community Scholars Initiative to more students and school districts across the region.

San Diego County is poised for new levels of economic success and to sustain job growth, more of our young people need to get to, and through, college. For the region to remain competitive, we need to promote economic inclusion and close the minority achievement gap in higher education.

This #GivingTuesday, invest in the future of San Diego and help more students pursue higher education by supporting Needs-Based Scholarships.

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