February 22, 2024 – San Diego, CA – San Diego Foundation (SDF) announced today that, starting Friday, Feb. 23, it is seeking proposals from nonprofit organizations for the Community Scholars Initiative, a college access program that supports students experiencing homelessness, with disabilities, in the foster care system and/or learning English to prepare for, pay for and persist through college.

“To increase educational equity, San Diego Foundation and our partners have an opportunity to help student populations that are facing the greatest barriers to college completion,” said Pamela Gray Payton, VP, Chief Impact & Partnerships Officer, SDF. “Through a commitment to English language learners, students experiencing homelessness, students with disabilities, and foster youth, San Diego Foundation recognizes the challenges these students face and will double down on our commitment to racial and economic equity in education.”

SDF will partner with community-based organizations that provide rigorous college access and success programming. Successful proposals will incorporate case management, financial aid advising and application assistance, family engagement programming, and college application support and assistance. Programs can also include mentoring and tutoring/homework assistance, supporting student access to Advanced Placement or college dual-enrollment courses, student development, career programming such as internship support or resume building, and/or providing access to college, university and industry representatives.

Grant applications must be submitted by 3 p.m., April 18, 2024. Prospective applicants are encouraged to register online for the grant seekers forum, held virtually from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. San Diego Foundation’s Education Initiatives team will share information about the grant requirements, funding opportunity and further insights regarding the grant application. Virtual host office hours will be available on March 7 and 14; interested applicants can sign up online.

Regarding the four student populations, research shows:

  • In California, nearly 20% of students in postsecondary education are students with disabilities; students with disabilities often struggle to access the rights guaranteed to them in the higher education system.
  • In California, one in five community college students, one in 10 California State University students, and one in 25 University of California students will experience homelessness during their time in postsecondary education.
  • In California, former foster youth have a bachelor’s degree completion rate of 3.6% as compared to an overall national completion rate of 62%.
  • Only one in eight English language learners who start in postsecondary education will complete their degrees.

The Community Scholars Initiative helps San Diegans prepare for, pay for and persist through college by providing financial support and critical wraparound services that bolster academic achievement. Since 2017, the initiative has supported 574 first-generation college students from low-income families and underrepresented communities with over $1.6 million in scholarships, thanks to six community-based partners’ college access and success programs.

About San Diego Foundation

San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve the quality of life in our region. Our strategic priorities include advancing racial and social justice, fostering equity of opportunity, building resilient communities, and delivering world-class philanthropy to realize our vision of just, equitable and resilient communities. The Education Initiative supports K-12 and higher education programs to extend opportunity to San Diego students as they prepare for success in life and work. For more than 48 years, SDF and its donors have granted $1.7 billion to support nonprofit organizations strengthening our community. Learn more at SDFoundation.org.


Lorena Nava Ruggero, San Diego Foundation, lruggero@sdfoundation.org, 619-814-1365