Community Scholars Initiative

The Community Scholars Initiative is a pilot project that will help hundreds more low-income and first-generation students in San Diego County prepare for, pay for and persist through college. The initiative was launched with a $500,000 grant from California-based College Futures Foundation to improve the economic future of San Diego by increasing educational opportunity and attainment.

According to the San Diego Regional EDC, Hispanics will be San Diego’s largest ethnic group by 2030. Yet, 34 percent of Hispanics do not finish high school and 85 percent do not hold a bachelor’s degree. In addition, research from the Public Policy Institute of California shows that only a fraction of students in California capable of earning a degree actually do, and low-income, underserved students are greatly underrepresented in colleges and universities.

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

The San Diego Foundation has partnered with local nonprofit Reality Changers and Mar Vista High School, Chula Vista High School and Southwest High School in the Sweetwater Unified High School District in the first year of the Community Scholars Initiative. The pilot project 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.

During the first year, up to 80 students will receive needs-based college scholarships for the 2018-2019 academic year.

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 $28.7 million to thousands of students throughout the region, including 63 percent of students who receive needs-based scholarships.

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