Betty Ma and John Pipia turned to Pasadena Community Foundation to facilitate the creation of the Welcome Home Fund, a scholarship fund for returning U.S. military combat veterans hoping to pursue a post-secondary degree. Together, John and Betty own and operate the Pacific Starr Group, a privately held real estate investment company. Supporting veterans is a passion for both: John was in active duty for several years, serving in the U.S. Army and in active combat in Vietnam, and Betty, despite a full professional schedule, still finds time to serve at her alma mater, the USC Graduate Business School, as a mentor for graduate MBA students, several of whom are veterans. Betty recently joined PCF’s Professional Advisors Committee.
The Welcome Home Fund will award two annual scholarships for a period of five years at Pasadena City College (PCC) to full-time student veterans who show serious academic ambition and progress and plan to transfer to a four-year college or university or complete an AA Degree or Certificate Program. The couple notes that it was especially important for them to offer hopeful and uplifting assistance. “So much of the news focuses on the problems that veterans encounter when reentering civilian life, like homelessness, PTSD, or drug use,” Betty says. “While those issues are certainly real and important, we wanted to focus our efforts on something supportive and to provide practical support for veterans looking to return to or begin their education.”
Betty and John turned to PCF to create the scholarship program knowing that the Foundation has a long track record and expertise in the community. They point out that in the real estate sector, they seek small, highly motivated teams with which to work, and they recognized that ethos in PCF’s approach too. PCF’s established partnership with PCC was especially important to the couple: PCC has a Veteran’s Resource Center, which is well positioned to support the Welcome Home Fund.
Building Confidence through Scholarships
John hopes that the scholarships will provide some financial confidence to veterans as they transition to rejoin civilian life. “So many of those who return from service are unsure if they have the right skills or training to succeed in civilian life. We know that they absolutely have what it takes – the military develops very specific and useful skills. A scholarship serves as reassurance that they can do it. It might be just what they need to build confidence and make a commitment to education.”
Established May 2021