Wednesday, May 25 , 2016, 2:03 pm | Partly Cloudy 68º

Scholarship Foundation Honors Recipients, Supporters at Annual Leadership Dinner

Awards totaling a record $8.6 million in 2014 will help 2,755 Santa Barbara County students pursue higher education

By Melissa Walker, Noozhawk iSociety Columnist | @NoozhawkSociety |

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Over the past 50 years, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara has created opportunity and transformed lives — one scholarship at a time — making college available to a greater number of Santa Barbara County students.

A dinner held Wednesday night at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum for leaders 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 and supporters.

Marissa Carrillo is a 24-year-old scholarship recipient who faced the struggles of a mother with breast cancer and a brother with autism after going to SBCC and graduating from UCSB. Carrillo told Noozhawk of the impact the Scholarship Foundation has had on her education.

“I believe it’s really crucial. It helped me get through City College,” Carrillo said. “As I went to the university, the federal grants and all that increased, too, but just what the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara gave me was just everything that I needed — it filled in all those gaps.”

Carrillo is now planning to apply to Antioch University for a graduate degree in clinical psychology with a focus on Latino health.

Maryann Schall was recognized for her years of support to the organization and inducted as an honorary board member, joining Michael Towbes, Marilyn Gevirtz, Barbara Henzell, Larie Smith and Harold Frank. 

Earlier in the day, an afternoon awards ceremony for all of this year’s scholarship recipients and parents was held at the Courthouse Sunken Gardens in conjunction with the organization's largest partner, the Santa Barbara Foundation.

Additionally, on Thursday in Santa Maria, there will be an awards ceremony open to the public at First Christian Church from 3:30 to 5 p.m., honoring students from the northern part of Santa Barbara County, with an invitation-only reception to follow.

Students who are motivated to achieve a higher-education degree are encouraged and supported by the organization’s mission to inspire, encourage and support Santa Barbara County students in their pursuit of college, graduate and vocational education.

Since 1962, the Scholarship Foundation has provided more than 36,700 scholarships totaling $87.6 million for county students through financial aid, advising and scholarships providing financial aid advising services to more than 35,000 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.

Support from the Scholarship Foundation reached 2,755 Santa Barbara County students in 2014, with scholarship awards totaling a record $8.6 million in student aid. With 3,874 applications this year, 1,119 were unfortunately cast out due to a lack of funds.

“This is the largest amount awarded by any community scholarship provider in the nation,” board president Janet Garufis said. “However, as proud as we are of this achievement, we never stop thinking about the many worthy young people that we had to turn away.

“It is heartbreaking to deny aid to any student who wishes to pursue a higher education degree or credential.”

The importance of finding funding for advanced education grows in importance in comparison to 2012 statistics from the Bureau of Labor that show the unemployment rate of 8.3 percent for high school graduates compared with 3.1 percent for college graduates.

In America, the price of a college education is the single fastest-rising commodity with fees and tuition at public four-year colleges increasing at an average annual rate of 6 percent beyond inflation over the past 10 years. 

Carrillo stressed the importance of taking the time and effort to work with the Scholarship Foundation for young students to gain potential opportunities.

“Definitely take the time to go through the application. Write your essays, do everything early, don’t wait until the last minute. Just do it,” Carrillo said. “You never know what you’ll get but even if you get a little bit or a lot it will help.”

The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara was formed 50 years ago by a group of volunteers and members of the American Association of University Women and PTA resulting in an impactful local organization that today is the largest community-based scholarship foundation in the United States.

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 Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara does not charge an administrative fee, and 100 percent of contributions to support scholarships go directly to deserving students.

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.

Some of these important local donors will be honored Thursday, June 12 at the 20th annual South Coast Business & Technology Awards to be held at Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort. 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 UCSB, 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.

Additionally, the organization will host the Community Leaders Luncheon on Dec. 5, acknowledging local donors and supporters.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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