The Gloria B. Lee Scholarship Program

The Gloria B. Lee Foundation provides a small cohort of talented, at-risk youth who have lived in poverty with financial and academic support to obtain an undergraduate degree in STEM or education fields.

Students who are granted a place in this program are provided additional support, exposure to experiences outside their community, positive adults, and hands-on opportunities to transition to postsecondary education while working towards a career.

Young people who have lived in poverty often have limited support and lack the academic achievement, self-esteem, and habits to plan and work towards their future.  Although high school graduation is a significant accomplishment for these young people, it is not enough to get out of poverty.

Additional Foundation goals

A secondary goal of the Foundation is to gather baseline input for future research to assess the potential of talented at-risk youth to complete college, when functioning within a supportive community.  The experiences gained over the course of the program will provide insight on how community support may improve the academic outcome of the entire group.

Student cohorts are the cornerstone of the program

Students in the cohort will be the first line of defense, support, and accountability for each other, whether those supports are academic, financial, social or emotional. The program will include a mentor/ leader who will be available to set the cultural tone, define goals and expectations, make sure students are on track, help resolve common issues and provide funding and access to external resources where needed. Success will be measured by on-track progression through community college and an eventual attainment of an undergraduate degree in a STEM or education field from a local California public college or university.

First stop – local community college

Since the initial entry point for students in the cohort will be the community college system, this additional support will be especially important.  Community colleges do not have the culture that supports student success in the same way a live-in, four year university might.  With the lack of a strong student culture, the completion rate for community colleges is less than 50%.  Students often commute to school and work other jobs.  Successful community college students need to have good academic skills and a great deal of self-discipline.  Other supports are required to help our students navigate the community college experience and go on to universities to complete their undergraduate degree.

The goal of the scholarship program for the students in the cohort is to “take it to the next level” by providing them the support needed for these talented students to navigate and successfully complete college.

The kinship model

Organizations such as Learning Works Charter School and Homeboy Industries have adopted the concept of “kinship” in their model of working with these students.  This concept has been critical to their approach and serves as a foundation for selecting candidates for each student cohort.

Learning Works, Homeboy Industry graduates, and LA Promise students have already demonstrated:

  • A serious commitment to improving their lives
  • The ability to work hard and make sacrifices to change their lives
  • A commitment to receiving support from others and offering support to others
  • An understanding and belief that we are “better together”

In addition, Homeboy Industries already offers a number of programs which will be critical to student success, including employment services, anger management, personal development, health, and substance abuse programs.

Learning Works and LA’s Promise also already offer a number of critical supports that the scholarship program can take advantage of including tutoring, financial aid and academic counseling to facilitate on-track progression through college.

Expectations for student participants

To remain in good standing in the program and obtain continued financial and social support, students are expected to:

  • Stay on track with their own studies
  • Help tutor other members of the cohort and receive tutoring from other members of the cohort when possible
  • Be an accountability partner for another member of the cohort
  • Share in the challenges and celebrate the successes of other members in the cohort
  • Provide logistical support for other members of the cohort in case of illness or emergency
  • Provide mentoring / sponsorship for a member of the following year’s cohort
  • Assist in refining and improving process / procedures
  • Participate in the selection of next year’s scholarship candidates

Enrollment into the program and skills development

  • The Career Inventory Assessment must be completed by every candidate. It has questions on career aspirations and why this program is important to them.
  • Each student will be given support on completing FAFSA, an application to community college, and identifying placement examinations.
  • Tutoring on placement examinations will be given.
  • Motivation workshops on potential careers will be given
  • Development of a resume and practice job interviewing skills when the appropriate time comes

Mentor / leader activities

The mentor / leader is key to the success of the program and students. Their role is to provide:

  • Team building activities
  • Review progress/ status of orientation program, fill in any gap
  • Logistical support for services where needed (e.g., bus passes
  • Shopping (e.g., books, laptops if necessary)
  • Measures student success based on timely progression through community college, university and eventual attainment of an undergraduate degree in a STEM or education field.


We are pleased to offer you an opportunity to participate in the Gloria B. Lee Endowment Trust program dedicated to ending poverty through higher education. Once accepted into the program, you will be asked to sign a letter that lists the following commitments you agree to:

  • I understand that this program is dedicated to supporting further education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and education fields. My end goal is a BA/BS degree in one of these areas.
  • I will meet with the Mentor/Leader once a week.
  • I will file for financial aid every year (FAFSA)
  • I will complete at least two courses toward my degree every semester with a C or better.
  • I will turn in proof of enrollment at the beginning of every semester and report card at the end of every semester to Mentor/Leader.
  • I will keep and turn in receipts when asking for reimbursements.
  • I will immediately inform Mentor/Leader of any telephone or address changes.
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