BGCA Establishes Scholarship Task Force to Increase Access to Higher Education for Teens

Boys & Girls Clubs across the country and abroad serve a diverse set of communities where gaps in graduation rates and postsecondary readiness continue to widen. To address this issue, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) launched the Higher Education Access and Scholarship Task Force (HEAST) in late 2015. This national committee of thought leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors will leverage their resources and influence to maximize access and minimize financial barriers to higher education for BGCA teenagers. BGCA’s goal is to secure scholarships and pre-collegiate experiences for club teens.

“Creating accessible pathways to higher education for kids and teens today is imperative if we want to change the opportunity equation for all youth,” says Damon Williams, PhD, chief educational and youth development officer with BGCA. “It’s our hope that through these scholarship opportunities, club youth will be empowered to pursue their dreams to achieve a great future without the financial barriers that may have halted their efforts in the past.”

HEAST members have pledged to secure scholarship commitments and on-campus experiences; establish near-peer mentorship opportunities with higher education institutions; and equip club members to navigate social, academic, financial, and administrative challenges of the postsecondary process — from high school to college to career.

BGCA is excited to announce the following inaugural higher education partners. Each partner has made up to a five-year commitment to offer pre-collegiate opportunities exclusively to BGCA members.

American Indian College Fund 
The American Indian College Fund donated $500,000 in scholarships for Native club members to attend select tribal colleges and universities. Nearly 86,000 Native youth are served at clubs annually, making BGCA the largest youth development provider for this group.

Amherst College
Amherst designated two on-campus slots annually (one for each cohort) for attendance at two weekend Diversity Open Houses to introduce prospective applicants to campus, the student body, faculty, classes, and residence halls. Total valuation: $15,000

Benedictine University at Mesa
Benedictine University at Mesa committed to providing near-peer mentoring to local clubs, designated two half-tuition slots annually, and guaranteed participation in the Jo Wilson Leadership Institute for club members admitted to the university. In addition, 10 fee waivers will be provided annually for Boys & Girls Club Week at Benedictine University. Total valuation: $240,071

Brandeis University 
Brandeis will give full consideration for admissions and financial aid to up to three BGCA applicants annually. Annual placements have been designated for club members in pre-collegiate summer programs, including the Global Youth Summit on the Future of Medicine (two to five slots), BIMA and Genesis (two to five slots), Students Exploring and Embracing Diversity (two slots), App Design Boot Camp (two to five slots), and Brandeis Service Corps (two to five slots). Total valuation: $185,000

Fontbonne University 
Annually, Fontbonne designated five full-tuition slots, three slots in Girls In Science, and three more in Camp FRESH. This weeklong day camp takes children entering fourth through seventh grade on an interactive, hands-on journey toward better health through activities that emphasize culinary experiences, nutrition, health and wellness, physical exercise, and creativity. Total valuation: $2,781,230

INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine
INSIGHT donated advertising and editorial space on its website and in its print publication to highlight BGCA’s postsecondary readiness efforts and HEAST’s progress. Total valuation: over $25,000 annually

Oregon State University 
Oregon State designated two full-tuition scholarships and three on-campus summer experiences annually in its Science and Engineering for Youth program, which is for minority and female high school students with an aptitude for math and science in engineering fields. Total valuation: $1,116,987

Scholarship America
Scholarship America will develop a portal to serve as the nucleus for club members to search and apply for scholarships. In addition, it will match members against this database.

Tacala/Taco Bell Foundation
The Tacala/Taco Bell Foundation provided a one-time scholarship donation for attendance at any higher education institution in the U.S. Total valuation: $110,000

Trine University
Trine designated two full-tuition slots and 15 on-campus summer experiences annually to provide exposure to the university during its Visit Day event, a one-day program that provides an overview of what Trine has to offer. Total valuation: $1,339,577

University of California System
The University of California’s 10 campuses will partner with California clubs to offer postsecondary readiness training to club staff, host pre-collegiate activities, provide information on college and career readiness, and offer support and resources to prepare young Californians for college success.

Universal Technical Institute Inc.
Universal Technical Institute Inc. made a one-time designation of one full-tuition slot and 15 on-campus summer experiences to promote its STEM Career and Technical Education programs to club members and to provide educational opportunities within the transportation industry. Total valuation: $500,000

University of Wisconsin-Madison
The University of Wisconsin-Madison designated two full-tuition scholarships annually for club members admitted to the university and its First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community program. Total valuation: $935,479

If you are interested in becoming a BGCA higher education partner, contact Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Higher Education Partnerships team at highereducation@bgca.org.●

Mikkal Hart Murunga is the director of higher education partnerships with Boys & Girls Clubs of America.