On May 24, about 300 supporters of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara (SFSB) gathered at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum for its Annual Dinner. Following the Awards Ceremony in the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Gardens, the event celebrated the $8.43 million in scholarships awarded this year to 2,688 students throughout the county. Excitement ran high as the event also celebrated the granting of more than $100 million to more than 47,000 students over its 55-year history. It is the first community-based scholarship program in the country to reach this milestone.
The reception began in the lower Adobe Courtyard and the enthusiasm was palpable — this is a group of donors, board members, staff, and volunteers who believe passionately in their organization’s mission. After a lovely dinner in the museum’s main Courtyard, President and CEO Candace Winkler conveyed that while college is the fastest, most efficient way to get out of poverty, cost puts it out of reach for many. According to Winkler, the average college graduate will earn $1 million more than the average high school graduate over the course of his or her lifetime. However, the price of a bachelor’s degree has increased by 40 percent in the last 10 years, making college unaffordable for many.
To illustrate the impact of scholarships, Winkler cited a national study showing that of students who start a bachelor degree program, after six years, only 61 percent had completed the program, with cost cited as the main reason why the other 39 percent had not. By contrast, for the most recent group of recipients at the SFSB, after six years, 82 percent had obtained their degree, and this occurred despite the average family income of its recipients being below the national average.
There were many emotional moments in the program when new and former scholarship recipients shared their stories. One of them, Ginger Salazar, graduated from Lompoc High School in 1984, got a scholarship to attend Stanford University, started a business with her husband, and is now on SFSB’s board. She shared how it is a fact,”not an alternative fact,” that “higher education equals opportunity, higher education transforms lives” and how grateful she is to donors who transformed her life and continue to transform the lives of others.
The evening also marked the transfer of leadership from current Board Chair Barrett O’Gorman to Don Logan, who has served on the board since 2004. Winkler thanked O’Gorman for his leadership and for his friendship, and called him the best board chair she has ever had.
The average size of the awards granted this year was $3,000. In-state tuition, books and supplies at UCSB is $15,268, add in room and board: $29,460. While SFSB made awards to 2,688 students, more than 750 deserving students were turned away for lack of funds. So while the $8.3 million awarded is extremely impressive, more funds are always needed. The majority of scholarships awarded are based on financial need, but some prioritize other criteria. SFSB does not charge donors any administrative fee. For more information about the Scholarship Foundation, go to sbscholarship.org.
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By Gail Arnold