Community Scholars Initiative

The Community Scholars Initiative helps hundreds of young San Diegans prepare for, pay for, and persist through college. Despite their talent and aspirations, first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students face unique and considerable barriers to achieving their academic dreams. Community Scholars Initiative works to provide financial support and critical wraparound services that bolster academic achievement through need-based scholarships for students, and grants to nonprofit organizations preparing students for success in the college environment. The initiative targets students from underrepresented groups, with a special focus on Latino youth.

Often bilingual and bi-cultural, Latino youth represent some of the highest high school graduation rates in the county and have invaluable talents to share in San Diego’s bi-national region and the global economy we compete in. Yet, according to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, Latinos – the region’s largest ethnic group by 2030, representing nearly half of the future local talent pipeline – today make up only 15% of the region’s degree holders. Higher incidences of poverty and a lack of access to guidance and college-going culture, are just some of the roadblocks facing these young people.

Education Attainment by Race and Ethnicity
Source: San Diego Regional EDC (2018). Future of Growth in San Diego: The Economic Case for Inclusion.

Through Community Scholars Initiative, The San Diego Foundation partners with local nonprofit organizations to identify and provide scholarships to students who meet the criteria of the scholarship program. Nonprofit partners refer students for scholarship consideration based on a student’s completion of a robust college readiness program. Nonprofits are invited to become CSI partners based on their impactful programming to prepare students for college success.

Made possible with the generous contributions of donors who are passionate about education and a partnership with the College Futures Foundation, to date Community Scholars Initiative has provided over 270 students, $690,000 in scholarships.

The Community Scholars Initiative builds upon The San Diego Foundation’s continued leadership in increasing access to higher education. Founded in 1997, The San Diego Foundation Community Scholarship Program is the largest scholarship provider in San Diego County outside the university system, granting more than $33 million to thousands of students throughout the region, including a majority who receive needs-based scholarships.

Support the Community Scholars Initiative