The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara gathered donors, sponsors, board members, community leaders, students and guests Friday afternoon at the annual Community Leaders Luncheon held at Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort.
The Scholarship Foundation encourages and supports students who are motivated to achieve a higher-education degree, and the organization’s mission is to inspire, encourage and support Santa Barbara County students in their pursuit of college, graduate and vocational education.
“Without them (the Scholarship Foundation) there would be so many deserving students who could not go to higher education, and that would be a diminishing thing for the entire community, not just the children and their families,” said Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation and the day's community leader speaker.
“They have become so successful in tapping into the vision and the generosity of the citizens of this city. They raise a lot of money and distributed it beautifully, equitably and to the most deserving students.”
And, as Gallo told Noozhawk before he shared the announcement to the crowd, next year the Santa Barbara Foundation has relaxed requirements for the $1.6 million of support it offers to the Scholarship Foundation in a quest to support the brightest minds.
“The Santa Barbara Foundation Board of Trustees made a major decision last Tuesday," he said, "because we realize we are in a worldwide competition for the best workforce in this new global economy, because we believe in investing in all of our best and brightest and we believe that our country is always at its best when it is supporting the next generation.
"And everyone who is willing to stand up for this country and work hard, we are removing the criteria that you must be a documented citizen to receive a scholarship with the funds we supply.
“So over $1.6 million next year will be available to all students who are achieving. We’re not telling the Scholarship Foundation to do anything different in their process. We’re saying that if someone is deserving of it by their process, we don’t want them to consider the documentation as an issue.”
Past community leader speakers have included an impressive array of locals, such as Michael Towbes (1990), Richard Schall (1997), Robert Failing (2004) and last year’s Angel Martinez, CEO of Deckers Outdoor Corp.
Support from the Scholarship Foundation reached 2,601 Santa Barbara County students in 2013, with scholarship awards totaling $8.1 million in student aid. Since 1962, the Scholarship Foundation has provided more than 34,500 scholarships totaling $81 million for county students through financial aid, advising and scholarships.
Additionally, the foundation provides financial aid advising services to more than 34,500 students and parents each year. These impressive feats have earned the foundation a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, a national independent evaluator of nonprofit organizations.
Janet Garufis, president and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust and Scholarship Foundation board president, welcomed the room with words of appreciation and gratitude, along with student guest speaker Nicholas Phillips, the recipient of the Orfalea Foundation Scholarship. Scholarship Foundation executive director Colette Hadley shared closing remarks for the luncheon.
"We are proud to enjoy generous support from outstanding community donors and leaders. This luncheon provides an opportunity to bring them together to appreciate them," Hadley said. "College accessibility and affordability remains a challenge for local students and their families. With the loyal support of our community we continue to provide educational opportunities to young people from Santa Barbara County."
The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara does not charge an administrative fee, and 100 percent of contributions to support scholarships goes directly to deserving students.
With the approaching close of the calendar year and a looming tax season, individuals, families, foundations, businesses and community groups may make tax-deductible gifts designating either annual scholarships or endowed scholarship funds to benefit local students. Click here for more information about donor opportunities.
The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara expresses a special thank you to the Community Leaders Luncheon sponsors:
» Montecito Bank & Trust and Venoco Inc.
— Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.