Going to college after graduating high school isn’t an easy step, or even an option, for many students in economically challenged communities. Since 2004, Interwest has awarded scholarships to more than 235 students to help them achieve their educational dreams.
From the beginning, the scholarship program was established to deliver more than just financial support. Becoming an Interwest Community Foundation scholar also meant becoming closely connected with Interwest as a company. With dreams to return to their communities to make an impact, some scholarship recipients have gone on to intern and even become Interwest employees after graduation.
The scholarship program is also unique in its application process. Recognizing that many students faced personal and socioeconomic obstacles that could impact their academic performance, the application focuses instead on the strength of students’ personal statements and challenges. It also takes family income into consideration to determine financial need.
“Our program is different than most,” Interwest Community Foundation Director Pamela Yugar said. “We target those students who have demonstrated the ability to overcome challenges and who are often bypassed by the system, and recognize they need support to get to the next level in their journey. We consider grades to be only one element of the overall student and quite often not the most important element. Grades don’t define a person; most of them have a story of overcoming obstacles in their lives.”
Yugar went on to say, “We read their essays, consider their entire life situation, and it becomes quite clear. The tenacity they each have, their drive to succeed, is what sets them apart from everyone else.”
This year, the Interwest Community Foundation awarded 44 scholarships to aspiring college students in the cities of Bell, El Monte, Elk Grove, Maywood, Perris, Pomona, Rosemead and San Jacinto. This group of students are pursuing a range of majors from public health to engineering to art and will be attending a wide range of schools such as UCLA, UC Berkeley, University of Southern California, and California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. Investing in a generation that will lead the future, Interwest is proud to support these students’ decisions to continue their education during a financially trying year.
Watch the video below to learn more about what this program means to the 2020 Interwest Community Foundation scholars:
You can also visit the Interwest Community Foundation page to find out more about our program.