Support Berkeley’s Future


May 2020


Give local youth the gift of greater opportunity.

Dear Friend,

Interviewing candidates for the High Hopes College Scholarships is different this year. We’re sheltering-in-place and conducting interviews virtually. We miss the youthful energy that filled the reception room where students usually gathered, talking about their hopes and plans for the future, but we are gratified for the chance to talk online with a diverse pool of inspiring young adults.  

These determined, talented, resilient, and compassionate students have the ability to make a true difference in our world. Their drive comes from the desire to earn a college degree so they can help their parents improve their lives, be a role model for their younger relatives, or just have an impact in their community. They all deserve a fighting chance. Students are eagerly awaiting this new journey. These students are living in the lowest economic quartile, will be the first generation in their family to attend college, and will be underrepresented on their college campuses. In these precarious times, they face an even steeper mountain to climb. 

We are faced with tough decisions.

This Spring, 120 Berkeley students with dreams of earning a college degree applied for our High Hopes Scholarship programs. We selected 60 semi-finalists to interview, and hope to select 35 to become our newest scholars. Like every year, the quality of the applicant pool is strong, and narrowing it down to 35 will be challenging.

Donations of $20,000, $10,000, $5,000, and $2,500 support a scholar for one to four years of a college journey with us. $1,000, $500, $250, and $100 assist a student with books, transportation, electronics, and food.

Your gift will have a lasting impact on our scholars and their families. A college degree allows a young adult to gain access to quality jobs with livable wages and benefits such as health insurance, paid sick and vacation leave, and 401K plans. For the vulnerable youth we serve, a degree can help overcome the daunting systemic, political, racial, and educational divisions that have been exacerbated and highlighted during this crisis.

Your gift will empower our scholars with much more than a check for tuition, books, and living expenses—it will give them the opportunity to transcend obstacles that are even more formidable than just a few short months ago. And it will show that you believe in them.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our current scholars have additional burdens beyond their typical challenges of health, finances, and employment. Now, many of them must contribute more to family members who lost jobs in recent months while trying to finish their courses remotely. To reach their ultimate goal of a college degree, our scholars will need additional support from BCS to cross the finish line. And we need them: these resilient, committed, and smart young adults will help create a more equitable and secure future for all.  

Berkeley Community Scholars forges deep relationships with our High Hopes Scholars. These relationships are part of what distinguishes our program and, we’re proud to say, result in an 86% persistence and graduation rate, compared to the national average of 13% for the same population. Instead of losing hope, dropping out, or feeling defeated, our partnership helps our scholars set and achieve concrete goals, encourages a growth mindset, connects them to opportunities, and instills a sense of belonging—all key elements in successfully obtaining a degree and launching a career.

These relationships also include you, our generous donors. For these scholars, knowing that there is an entire community of people rooting for their success keeps them focused and hopeful.

We know this is a challenging time for all of us. But your contribution today can have an exponential impact tomorrow, as these young scholars are going to be leading the way to creating a safe, fairer and more sustainable world for us all. We thank you for your past support and look forward to welcoming you to team BCS again!

With gratitude,

Sherry Smith 
Executive Director

If you would prefer to donate via check or DAF, please send to our mailing address:
Attn: Accounting
Berkeley Community Scholars
P.O. Box 680
Berkeley, CA 94701

Berkeley Community Scholars is a charitable organization as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Gifts to Berkeley Community Scholars are tax-deductible contributions in accordance with Code section 170. Our tax ID is 94-3264327.

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