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Our Scholarship Program Journey
As we embark on the fourth year of our scholarship program, we continue to reflect, renew, and embrace the beauty and power that comes from a painful history. At the founding of our scholarship fund was a mission to bring value to stories most dismissed in educational spaces, not because they lack potential or knowledge, but due to educational systems merit-based selection practices that are rooted in elitism, white supremacy culture, and a myth of meritocracy.
(As shared by our friends at Joy As Resistance, “White Supremacy Culture is the water we swim in and trains each one of us to internalize harmful attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.” For more learnings on white supremacy culture, please visit whitesupremacyculture.info).
Historically, scholarship applications have required students to prove their value through GPAs, letters of recommendation, and written responses justifying their adherence to English grammar. But at Central Valley Scholars, we believe every student is equally worthy, deserving, and has all the power to change the world. So instead, we’ve created a scholarship curriculum that is centered on storytelling.
And these stories are powerful. Every year, students across the Valley open their hearts to us and share their equally painful, beautiful, and enlightening lenses on the world. Unearthing the questions: What does it mean to be a Queer person in the Central Valley? How has my Black identity brought me joy and strength? How has my disability shaped my identity and created a radical perspective of what our community can look like? We learn so much from these students, we learn so much from their stories, and it has become so vividly clear that knowledge is not only gained through course curriculums and honor roll lists: Knowledge is also gained through lived experiences.
Our scholarship fund intentionally reserves opportunities for students most oppressed in our communities, and through a holistic review of the individual and system-wide obstacles students face in applying to scholarships, we’ve created a truly accessible scholarship program that allows all students, especially those who are oppressed, to have equal opportunities to fund their higher education. And we’re not alone in believing this statement, as past applicants shared how accessible and inclusive our scholarship requirements were:
Not only do we yearly revise and edit our scholarship program to meet the needs and feedback of our students, but we also increase our scholarship funding every year (see Figure 1.0). For the 2023 application cycle, are proud to offer $30,000 in scholarships for Central Valley students, and are eager for the learnings, love, and power we will gain from our collective stories.
Scholarship Application & Opportunities
Our scholarship application is designed for students to reflect on identity, invite vulnerability, and discover the unique and powerful knowledge they have gained through their lived experiences as oppressed people. Students should approach our application as an opportunity to share their story; honesty and the ability to show your authentic self is what we value most.
With exclusion of the first-generation scholarship (which has two reflective questions), each application has three reflective questions with a 250 word maximum. In addition, each application ends with a final self-advocacy question, in which students can advocate for how they believe their story connects with our scholarship mission.
For the 2023 Central Valley Scholars scholarship cycle, we are offering eight identity-based scholarships with a $1,500 cash prize for each. Our scholarship opportunities are as follows:
The LGBTQIA+ Scholarship
The First-Generation Scholarship
The Undocumented Student Scholarship
The Black Student Scholarship
The Student with Disabilities Scholarship
The Woman of Color Scholarship
The Student Parent Scholarship
The Justice Impacted Student Scholarship
We will select two recipients per scholarship and, in addition, one of our applicants will be selected for the 2023 Inspire Award. The Inspire Award comes with a cash prize of $6,000, individual recognition on our social platforms, outside media publications, and continuous themtorship and support from the Central Valley Scholars team.
There is no application for our Inspire Award. To be considered, students must qualify and apply for at least one of our eight identity scholarships. To learn more about our Inspire Award, click here. To view our 2022 Inspire Awardee, click here. To learn more about our scholarship opportunities, click here.
Scholarship Requirements & Deadline
Each scholarship application has its own individual identity-based requirements; however, generally speaking, our requirements are as follows:
Must be enrolled at a community college, vocational school, or undergraduate university during the fall semester/quarter of 2023.
Must have graduated from a high school, continuation school, or G.E.D school in the San Joaquin Valley by August 31st, 2023 (see Figure 2.0)
Students currently enrolled in or transitioning to a vocational school, community college, or an undergraduate university are eligible to apply. However, graduate students and people who have completed their Bachelor’s degree do not qualify for our scholarships. If you would like to check if you qualify, please complete our eligibility quiz.
Inclusivity and accessibility are paramount values in our organization, and as such, we have made an effort to make our applications as accessible as possible. In our applications, we do not ask for a social security, we hold no citizenship prerequisite, we do not have a grade point minimum (i.e. GPA) requirement, and (*new*) we do not ask for a letter of recommendation for any of our scholarship applications.
Applications are due on Thursday, June 1, 2023 at 11:59 pm PT (June 8, 2023 at 11:59 pm PT for students with disabilities).
Accessibility & Accommodations
We understand that students who confront systemic oppressions face various obstacles in their ability to apply to scholarships, and we would like to support and accommodate our students. The following are additional accommodations we have available for any applicant who may need them.
One-week Submission Extension
We offer a one-week extension for students with disabilities or students facing difficult circumstances to submit their scholarship applications. To apply for an extension, please complete this accommodations requests form by May 18, 2023 at 11:59 pm PT.
Please note, the Student with Disabilities Scholarship already has a one-week submission extension implemented in the application. However, if you are applying to multiple scholarships and would need a one-week extension for those applications, please complete our accommodations requests form by the aforementioned deadline.
In reflection of the learnings from our 2022 Inspire Awardee, students are welcome to submit application responses in a language other than English. However, before doing so, students must complete this accommodations requests form by May 18, 2023 at 11:59 pm PT.
Applications submitted in a different language, other than English, that did not receive an accommodation approval may be interpreted at the selection committee's discretion for consideration.
For any additional accommodation needs, please submit our accommodations request form. For any specific questions or support regarding accommodations, please email email@example.com or call our office between 11 am - 7 pm at (559)205-9382.
*New* Justice Impacted Scholarship
We are proud to introduce the Justice Impacted Scholarship into our program, inspired by the story of our 2020 Inspire Awardee, Pedro Gamino (he/him).
When we imagine a thriving world, we must begin with addressing the injustices casted against Black, Indigenous, People of Color, migrants, human rights protectors, LGBTQIA+ communities, working class/low income folks, and unhoused peoples. And within these injustices lies the prison industrial complex which is rampant across the nation and in the Central Valley.
In the Central Valley, many experience detention facilities surrounding their communities, the policing of their neighborhoods, and racially fueled surveillance, leaving very few opportunities for individuals and communities to thrive. Justice Impacted students are systemically left out of educational opportunities, denied economic security, and are confronted with judgment.
At Central Valley Scholars, we believe that carceral systems are not solutions, rather detriments to a progressing society. We understand that the decisions folks make are impacted by their environment, access or lack of resources, and narratives shaped by injustice. The Justice Impacted Student Scholarship is one action we are taking to offer support to students who have been impacted by the carceral system, and are taking steps to pursue a higher education.
For purposes of this application, the term ‘justice impacted’ includes individuals who have been arrested, convicted, charged, incarcerated, or detained in a prison, local jail, juvenile detention center, immigration detention center, or any other carceral setting.
To learn more about and apply to our Justice Impacted Scholarship, click here.
Questions? Want More Information?
For more information or questions about our scholarship program, please visit our Scholarships page in which you can find the following:
Website link to apply
Individual scholarship descriptions and requirements
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Scholarship Terms & Conditions
For any questions or information about our scholarships (that is not found our scholarship website or this article), please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office between 11 am - 7 pm at (559) 205-9382.
Before you reach out, please note that we are a small team with limited capacity! We will not be responding to any inquiries/questions that have already been addressed on this article or our scholarship website.