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. or a local community college. 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 schools 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 Berkeley High School graduates bound for four-year universities or community colleges with the goal of transferring. We also provide scholarship money 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, between 1970 and 2019, 13% of college students whose family income is in the lowest quartile earned a bachelor’s degree by age 24. 62% of students from the highest earning quartile graduated in the same timeline. In comparison, since our founding in 2008, 73% of BCS scholars, whose families are all in the lowest earning bracket, have earned their degrees.

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, and 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.

We also encourage mentors to attend the Summer Celebration to welcome the new cohort class. This takes place in mid-late June. 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.