Soledad student one of 17 to earn Pay It Forward scholarship



SALINAS — The Pay It Forward Scholarship and Mentoring Program of the Future Citizens Foundation, a California-based youth development non-profit organization, is proud to announce the awarding of $340,000 in scholarships for 17 local high school students to California State University, Monterey Bay.

Of the 17 students who earned scholarships, Marisol Ayala Garcia of Soledad High School was the only student representing the South County area.

The Pay It Forward Scholarship and Mentoring Program, through private funds, provides a $20,000 four-year scholarship at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), to local Monterey County students who are first-generation college students. Each scholarship recipient is mentored for four years by a community leader who helps the student navigate the challenges of college life.

In turn, these recipients must maintain a four-year graduation track and a 2.5 GPA. They must as well as mentor a minimum of five hours monthly a participant of The First Tee of Monterey County who will also be the first generation of his or her family to attend college, creating a cycle of local college graduates who are contributing to the community even as they study.

“It is wonderful to follow these local young students in their journeys into a successful future,” said Tim McCarthy, program director. “Their lives change, and with that, so do the lives of their families and our community.”

The program has been funded solely by private funds donated generously from individuals and private foundations. From its inception, every dollar donated to the program has gone to scholarships.

Through a 2013 partnership agreement with the University Corporation, the foundation arm of CSUMB, the administrative costs have been covered by non-gifted funds.

“We are grateful to Monterey County’s generous philanthropic community who’ve invested in our local youth through the Pay It Forward Mentoring and Scholarship Program,” said Barry Phillips, CEO of the Future Citizens Foundation. “The impact of local students graduating from the local University and going back into the local community will be felt for decades and generations to come.”

The program’s future is bright and will be limited only by the funds available for scholarships. Since its inception, 120 students have entered the program, funded by gifts of more than $2 million.

Of the 64 students eligible to graduate to date, 42 have donned the cap. This graduation rate in a four-year program doubles the CSUMB-wide graduation rate for entering freshman, and 43 percent of those 42 program graduates have done so with honors.


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