For 50 years, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara has created opportunities for the youth of Santa Barbara County, and a dinner held recently at the Courthouse Sunken Gardens for leadership and donors of the organization recognized that longevity and honored this year’s scholarship recipients.
The Annual Leadership Dinner was a casual outdoor affair arranged to celebrate and acknowledge several outstanding scholarship recipients who also shared inspiring stories of dedication and success.
Earlier in the day, an afternoon awards ceremony for all of this year’s scholarship recipients and parents was held in the same location with speakers Peter MacDougall, chair of the Santa Barbara Foundation, and Alan Griffin, president of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.
The leadership dinner began with a reception. Guests mingled and enjoyed a lovely evening beneath the clock tower that was followed by a dinner buffet and welcome messages from Griffin.
Following Griffin were remarks about the anniversary from co-chairs and past presidents Patty MacFarlane and Joanne Rapp, who discussed some of the ongoing and upcoming commemorative activities.
This milestone year includes an organizational history project to archive the foundation’s legacy, a public awareness program to draw communitywide attention, a 50th anniversary gala and outreach efforts to alumni in order to connect with more past scholarship recipients, plus a fundraising campaign.
Special thanks from the Orfalea Foundation were shared with Darshana Dimmitt of San Marcos High School, the recipient of the Orfalea Foundation Scholarship. Dimmitt plans to attend Santa Barbara City College and is interested in majoring in psychology to pursue a career as a child psychologist. She expressed to Noozhawk her gratitude for the scholarship assistance from the Scholarship Foundation.
“It helped me to get an education and helped me afford it, and helped my single mom who’s helping me as much as she can,” Dimmitt said. “It’s going to classes and books, which is very expensive, and now I’m not going to have to work as hard at college and I can focus more on studies.”
Scholarship Foundation Executive Director Colette Hadley continued the introduction of recipients, including the Walter Van Cott Memorial Scholarship to Blanca Garcia, who as a multiple winner of different scholarships throughout her studies not only derived motivation from the financial assistance but also from the network of support at the foundation.
Garcia recognized early on that she was falling behind other students but staged a remarkable turnaround, graduating last week from Santa Barbara High School with a 4.32 GPA and plans to attend Brown University this fall to major in mathematics.
“I was behind other students and I realized that I was behind, and I had to work really hard and I pushed through junior high and high school really trying to get as far as I could to get to college,” Garcia said.
Later, Hadley presented the Jack Laher Memorial Scholarship to Alfredo Gonzales Ibarra, who also graduated from Santa Barbara High School and is considering attending CSU Dominguez Hills or Santa Barbara City College to major in criminal justice.
“It is imperative that we help young people finance and achieve their academic goals,” Hadley said. “In turn, they will bring their considerable talents and skills to the workforce and become involved citizens.”
Since 1962, the Scholarship Foundation has helped local students with more than 30,000 awards totaling more than $65 million and provided financial aid advising services to 25,000 students and parents each year. These impressive feats have earned the foundation a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the nation’s leading independent evaluator of nonprofits.
The importance of the foundation’s work grows each year as tuition and fees at public four-year colleges have increased at an average annual rate of 6 percent beyond inflation over the past 10 years.
Additionally, beyond the monetary assistance, the organization also has enjoyed a higher graduation rate than the national average with 83 percent of award recipients who attend four-year colleges completing their degree compared with the national bachelor’s degree completion rate of 52 percent.
The importance of these numbers further grows in importance in comparison to recent projections that indicate that by 2018, 63 percent of California’s jobs will require post-secondary education.
Tax-deductible gifts to the Scholarship Foundation from individuals, businesses, families, community groups and foundations are used to fund named scholarships, annual scholarships or endowed scholarship funds.
The event will recognize outstanding local businesses and technical professions whose achievements strengthen the core of the South Coast while also supporting scholarships for students at UC Santa Barbara, SBCC or Westmont College who are studying business or technology.
Support from the South Coast Business & Technology Award winners and all the donors to the Scholarship Foundation are key to both the growth of the South Coast and the many young students needing support here within the community.
“It was great to have some money available because I am a low-income student and I had to work junior and senior year,” Garcia said. “And I can breathe a little easier now knowing that I will have at least some money for college. And also just having someone give me that money means a lot because it means they believe in me.”