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San Diego Foundation Awards Most Scholarships in History

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NEW YORK – JUNE 23: High school seniors wear a traditional cap and gown while attending their high school graduation ceremonies from the al Noor School June 23, 2010 in Brooklyn, New York. Approxiamately 50 seniors will graduate from the private Islamic institution. Many of the students are from second generation Arab or Middle Eastern families. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

The San Diego Foundation awarded more than $3.4 million in college scholarships to 1,025 local students for the 2021-22 academic year, it was announced Monday.

The amount is the most the nonprofit philanthropic organization has awarded since it began giving scholarships to local students in 1997.

According to the nonprofit's mission statement, the Community Scholarships Program is intended to help "foster equity of opportunity for San Diegans."

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

"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 foundation.

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"Significant barriers like affordability and the achievement gap continue to lower underrepresented students' odds of obtaining a bachelor's degree," she said. "These scholarships are one of the most important ways we can generate economic opportunity and support upward mobility in San Diego."

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, health sciences, business and arts and education. More than 40% 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 in 2018 launched the Community Scholars Initiative, a multi-year partnership with local nonprofits focused on college access and readiness programs intended to 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 underrepresented backgrounds.

Nope, no inheritance to speak of here. Tori Dunlap says she did get parental help paying for college, but was also working 3 jobs and had scholarships, enabling her to graduate debt-free. Now she runs Her First $100K, a financial feminist group promoting financial literacy for young women.

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.

The Community Scholarships Program is made possible through the donor support of 146 unique charitable funds 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 2022-23 academic year can apply beginning in December on the foundation website.