San Diego Foundation is making things a little bit easier for local students seeking financial assistance with scholarships to college.
As it did last year, helping more than 900 students access money for their continuing education, the nonprofit’s Common Scholarship Application will connect graduating local high school seniors and current college students to $3.5 million in scholarships.
The Common Scholarship Application allows students access to nearly 150 scholarship opportunities with awards from $1,000 to more than $5,000.
The unique scholarships include those for four-year universities, two-year colleges, graduate schools and vocational schools. Scholarships are available for graduating high school seniors; undergraduates; graduate, medical and professional school students; and adult re-entry students.
“When we support historically under-resourced college students, we’re fostering equity of opportunity in San Diego and supporting the local talent pipeline that builds our region’s workforce,” said Danielle Valenciano, director of the SDF Community Scholarship Program. “Research shows that scholarships reduce students’ work and debt burden, making them more likely to graduate from college and to do so on time.”
Valenciano said that San Diego Foundation has a vision for just, equitable and resilient communities.
She said that through the Community Scholarships Program as well as the organization’s Community Scholars Initiative, “we recognize and champion the importance of advancing educational equity and do so by collectively focusing our efforts on first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students.”
The application for the scholarships on San Diego Foundation’s website notes that applicants, who must be current residents and have lived in San Diego County for at least one year, need not be straight-A students, star athletes or student body presidents.
The website notes that more important to the process is a commitment to education, showing a potential for success in college, a minimum grade-point average of 2.0 and participation in community service, extracurricular activities and/or work experience.
“We offer a variety of scholarships targeted at different types of postsecondary education such as four-year universities, community colleges and vocation/trade schools,” Valenciano said. “They are also grouped by interests, such as arts- or athletics-specific scholarships; ethnicity or background; and even scholarships for students from specific school districts.”
The scholarships are made possible through the SDF Community Scholarship Program and Community Scholars Initiative. Both programs give more regional students the tools and financial support to continue their education.
As part of its program, the Community Scholars Initiative works with local college access organizations to help hundreds more low-income and first-generation students prepare for, pay for and persist through college.
In 2022, San Diego Foundation awarded an historic $3.5 million in college scholarships – the highest annual amount ever – to 989 local students for the 2022-23 academic year. Valenciano said that among the 2022-23 scholarship recipients, 69% were first-generation college students – or the first in their immediate families to pursue a higher education – and 93% of students were considered low-income, according to their earned family contribution data.
Valenciano said that nearly 2,200 college-bound students submitted a collective 16,000 scholarship applications last year.
“Each application is carefully reviewed by volunteers and through extensive outreach efforts, our team does its best to make sure that every scholarship has qualified recipients,” she said. “We look forward to another record-breaking year of scholarship awards.”
The Community Scholarship Program has donor support of 146 unique charitable funds at SDF, which the foundation’s website touts as being “the largest in the region outside of the university system.” Since 1997, the program has awarded over $46 million to more than 12,000 college students from across the county.
Those interested in supporting the Community Scholarships Program can donate online at SDFoundation.org/CollegeAccess and those seeking to start their own scholarship fund with SDF can visit SDFoundation.org/ScholarshipFund.
SDF’s Education Initiative supports K-12 and higher education programs to extend opportunities to local students.
San Diego Foundation
HEADQUARTERS: Liberty Station, Point Loma
BUSINESS: Community foundation
REVENUE: $164M in FY 2022
SOCIAL IMPACT: In 2021, San Diego Foundation released its Strategic Plan, which includes “advancing racial and social justice, fostering equity of opportunity, building resilient communities and delivering world-class philanthropy.”
NOTABLE: For more than 47 years, San Diego Foundation and its donors have granted more than $1.4 billion to support nonprofit organizations strengthening our community.