For Immediate Release

August 16, 2021 – San Diego, CA – The San Diego Foundation announced today the historic awarding of more than $3.4 million in college scholarships – the highest annual amount ever – to 1,025 local students for the 2021 – 2022 academic year.

Among the scholarship recipients, 69 percent are first-generation college students, or the first in their immediate families to pursue a higher education, and 96 percent are considered low-middle-income students based on their Earned Family Contribution data.

“Students from Latinx, Black and low-income communities in San Diego continue to be historically underrepresented in higher education,” said Danielle Valenciano, Director of Community Scholarships at The San Diego Foundation. “Significant barriers like affordability and the achievement gap continue to lower underrepresented students’ odds of obtaining a bachelor’s degree. These scholarships are one of the most important ways we can generate economic opportunity and support upward mobility in San Diego.”

The Community Scholarships Program helps foster equity of opportunity for San Diegans, a priority of The San Diego Foundation strategic plan. Investing in local students is one of the most advantageous ways to advance equity in the region and increase access and resources for San Diegans facing barriers to realizing full and healthy lives.

Applications were submitted by more than 2,600 local high school, community college, graduate and adult re-entry students studying a variety of subjects, including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); health sciences; business; and arts and education, among others. More than 40 percent of those who applied were affiliated with a college access and readiness program such as AVID, Reality Changers and TRIO/Upward Bound.

In addition to its scholarship program, The Foundation launched the Community Scholars Initiative (CSI) in 2018, a multi-year partnership with local nonprofits focused on college access and readiness programs that help low-income and first-generation students prepare for, pay for and persist through college. The programs provide academic and counseling support, college and scholarship application assistance, and more to students from historically under-represented backgrounds. This year, CSI received a major $100,000 gift from the David Malcolm Family Trust supporting 38 additional first-generation, low-income students with college scholarships and services that bolster their academic achievement.

The Community Scholarships Program is made possible through the generous donor support of 146 unique charitable funds at The San Diego Foundation and is the largest in the region outside of the university system. Since 1997, the program has awarded almost $40 million to more than 10,000 college students from San Diego.

Students interested in scholarships for the 2022 – 2023 academic year can apply beginning December 2021 on The Foundation website. If you are interested in opening a scholarship fund to support students fueling our San Diego economy, please contact Danielle Valenciano, Director of Community Scholarships, at