Insights & News

Using Scholarships Strategically: Lessons from 10 Years of Grantmaking

How can scholarships be used as strategic tools so that far more young people can gain access to and be successful in college and entire regions of our state can meet the demand for degrees essential to their economies, communities, and future?

In California, a vibrant future depends on our ability to dramatically increase the number of students getting to and through college. We cannot accomplish this without better supporting low-income students and those underrepresented in higher education—who are the vast majority of students in our state.

Over the past 10 years, College Futures Foundation, formerly College Access Foundation of California, has provided $100 million in scholarships to more than 20,000 low-income students across the state. We have learned a great deal from our students, our analysis of the data we collected to follow their trajectories and outcomes, other research, and our dedicated partners and grantees—and we have captured those lessons in this new report, Strategic Scholarship Giving for Student Success: Insights and Approaches from 10 Years of Grantmaking.

Although College Futures Foundation has recently begun a new chapter of work, we remain convinced that scholarships are an important and powerful tool that can be leveraged strategically for better student outcomes. Through our Community Philanthropy for Student Success Initiative, for example, we are partnering with eight community foundations serving regions that account for 60% of California’s low-income students. These foundations are working to create sustainable funding for need-based scholarships to help more young people succeed.

In this report, we offer the insights and recommendations emerging from our extensive involvement with scholarships with hopes that they advance the work of fellow philanthropies, college access and success groups, and others who care deeply about achieving better outcomes for our students and our state.

Download Strategic Scholarship Giving Report