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San Diego Foundation announces more than $2.7 million in scholarships available

Danielle Valenciano, Director of Community Scholarships at The San Diego Foundation.

The deadline is nearing for local residents to apply for hundreds of scholarships the San Diego Foundation is making available through the Community Scholarship Program for San Diego students pursuing higher education during the 2020-2021 school year.
Through the online application, students can access more than $2.7 million in available funds for 140 unique types of scholarships, including those for four-year universities, two-year colleges, graduate and vocational schools. Scholarships are available for graduating high school seniors, undergraduates, graduate, medical and professional school students and adult re-entry students.
“Investing in our students is one of the best ways to expand economic equity and opportunity within our region,” said Danielle Valenciano, director of community scholarships at The San Diego Foundation. “The San Diego Foundation Community Scholarship Program ensures that more youth in San Diego are setup for success as they persist through college and go on to join the regional workforce.”
The Times-Advocate interviewed Valenciano, who noted that the deadline to apply is February, and that there are 140 different scholarships for any kind of post-secondary schooling. “We are trying to get the word out,” she said.
Post-secondary doesn’t just mean college. It is also for trade or vocational or for adults returning to school. “Anything past high school we are likely to have a scholarship for,” said Valenciano.
The scholarships range from $1,000 to $5,000 and half of them are multi-year. Which means that recipients don’t have to reapply to continue to receive them as long as they meet minimums for grades and attendance.
One scholarship, the Hubbard Scholarship, is specific to Escondido and Valley Center. It is named after Al Hubbard, who was a navy veteran who lived in the area. His good friend is a trustee for the fund and manages it.  “It’s on the larger end,” said Valenciano, about $4-5,000 with maybe ten scholarships given.”
She noted that a graduate award has been added to the long list of scholarships. It is for students who have already earned a degree but are going to graduate school.
Students can use the common application available at SDfoundation.org to apply for most of the scholarships. “You answer one short answer and one essay. Applicants answer questions about academics, finances, extracurricular activities. “It does mimic college applications,” said  Valenciano. “Students can log on and choose the ones they are a good fit for.”
Criteria for the scholarships vary widely and a donor driven. “No way we could do it without our donors,” she said.

Melanie Mashburn, Administrator, Community Scholarships.

The scholarships are aimed at lower income, first generation students, sometimes foster youth, LGBQ students, African American and other minorities. “Public colleges can no longer
scholarships for ethnicities in California,” she said. So San Diego Foundation helps fill that gap. “UCSD for example, has three scholarships, two for African Americans and one for a  Latino. They can’t do them through their college but they can through us.”
“Because they are donor driven the qualifications vary, so we have something for just about anyone,” she said, adding, “We are as a program dedicated to serving local students. This is a larger purpose. We know the workforce in San Diego will rely on college degrees and the largest population is Mexican American and that they are disproportionately not represented as well in colleges. It’s our goal to help level the playing field. Our focus is low income first generational students.”

Jessica Jasso, Program Specialist, Community Scholarships.

Last year the foundation awarded $3 million in scholarships to a thousand students. Since the program’s inception in 1997 it has given away more than $33 million. “We are three person team,” said Valenciano. One of those three spends a quarter of her time in outreach to every single high school in the county. “We do a full court press. Last year we gave 40 new awards from Escondido. About 6-7 percent of new awardees come from Escondido. About five students come from Escondido.
The deadline to apply is February 5, 2 p.m. That time was chosen so that Valenciano and her team are available to answer questions right up to the deadline. “We’re a three person team so we are able to manage the inquires and we are here to help.
And if anyone wants to become a scholarship donor, Valenciano would like to talk to them.
The San Diego Foundation Community Scholarship Program is the largest in the region outside of the university system and provides a variety of scholarships. Since 1997, the program has awarded more than $33 million to thousands of students. The scholarships are made possible through the generosity of more than 100 donors who have opened charitable funds at The San Diego Foundation.
The Common Scholarship Application can be accessed at SDFoundation.org/CSA. For more information about the scholarship process, please contact scholarships@sdfoundation.org.

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