Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the High Hopes Scholars?

High Hopes Scholars are Berkeley public high school graduates (either Berkeley High School or Berkeley Technology Academy) attending a 4-year college or university in the U.S. The majority of our students are first-generation college students from low-income families and communities underrepresented in higher education. Over fifty percent are the first in their family to attend college, and many are recent immigrants to the country. More than three-quarters of our students attend a public institution in California. The remainder attend California private schools or attend school out of state.

What is the Berkeley Community Scholars’ High Hopes Scholarship Program?

The High Hopes Scholarship program is a college success program designed to provide mentorship, programs, community support, and resources to graduating seniors bound for four-year universities. We also provide a $16,000 scholarship to help bridge the financial gap for scholars. The support we provide helps students better navigate the demands and challenges of higher education and increases the likelihood that they will successfully obtain a college degree. Nationally, 90% of first-generation college students leave college within six years without a degree and 30% drop out after their freshmen year. BCS scholars comparatively demonstrate a 92% graduation/persistence rate.

How the Mentor Program Works

Mentoring is one of the most important aspects of BCS’ program. BCS scholars often do not have the resources or access to the kinds of support and information that will help them achieve success in college. When surveyed, students place a higher value on having a mentor and “someone who believes in them,” than on the financial support they receive. By matching students with a mentor who has a college degree and understands the challenges and rewards of college, we provide a missing piece on their path to success.

We match each mentor with one of our High Hopes Scholars based on gender, career aspirations and interests.

What does being a mentor mean?

Mentors are valuable resources to our scholars. They inspire and facilitate academic, career, and personal achievements. The developmental transitions faced by young adults in each of these areas are enriched by the experience, wisdom, and guidance of a mentor. They provide scholars with encouragement, information, support, advice, self-advocacy skills and are an important role model for meeting challenges. Mentors may also be able to provide valuable opportunities by helping students make contacts for academic and career success.

What are the specific requirements of a mentor?

  • Arrange at least 2 face-to-face meetings or outings with the scholar per year.
  • Initiate contact with the scholar at least once a month during the school year. Often more contact is required
    in the early stages of the mentoring relationship or if a scholar is struggling with a particular issue. This can be
    done through text, email, video chat, or by phone depending on what you work out with your scholar.
  • Respect confidentiality
  • Promptly respond to messages and phone calls from your scholar.
  • Promptly respond to messages sent by BCS board members or staff.
  • Communicate with other mentors; act as a resource when possible.
  • Communicate with the college advisors promptly if unable to communicate with your scholar
    regularly, for check-ins and/or challenges that arise with your scholar, or if you can’t continue as a
    mentor for any reason.
  • Attend other BCS program events whenever possible, and encourage your scholar to do the same.

The BCS hosts two initial meetings with new scholars and their mentors—the scholar-mentor mixer the evening of June 1st and the summer orientation on Saturday, June 23rd. These events are mandatory for new mentors and scholars. We also encourage mentors to attend the Awards Ceremony to celebrate the new cohort class. This will take place on June 12th.
We also host events during the summer and an annual holiday party in December that are well attended by both mentors and scholars.

How do I get started?

We ask potential mentors to fill out the mentor interest form. We strongly encourage potential mentors to attend our March and April information sessions. We select our scholars in mid-May and then choose from the pool of mentors to match the scholar with the appropriate mentor based on areas of common interest. Since we choose from a pool, not all mentors will be matched with a scholar this year, but we may match you with a scholar in the future.