Support Students, Support Community

Most students know that higher education has become a prerequisite to achieving prosperity, but the high cost of tuition makes it difficult for most students to pencil out the real value of a degree or technical certificate.

Scholarships can keep a student’s dreams within reach, yet only 17% of undergraduates receive awards.

Here in southwest Washington, our team is working to increase this number for a few reasons. Beyond helping with affordability, studies also show that every $1,300 a student receives can boost their chances of graduating by 2.5%. Those facing greater barriers to accessing higher education — such as students of color, first-generation and low-income students — leverage this vital support for even greater gains. Belinda Vasquez is one example of the possibilities students can achieve.

Student Story

Belinda Vazquez is a first-generation college student majoring in exercise science at Saint Martin’s University. An unexpected award from the General Scholarship Fund furthered her dream of working as an athletic trainer in the NBA or NFL. Given her track record, we’re likely to see her on the sidelines soon. At Mark Morris High School, Belinda was active in student body government, an AVID President and Student Leadership Chair. She was also competitive in volleyball and voted most inspirational on the court for two seasons. Unfortunately, a serious injury interfered with her career and inspired her to help other athletes. Next year, she’ll enter one of the top athletic training programs in the region at Washington State University. Belinda is excited for the challenge and ready to continue living out her values of care, compassion and inclusion in the communities she serves.

Support Local Students

Portrait of Belinda Vazquez

The General Scholarship Fund creates an outsized impact by giving meaningful support to underserved students across our region.

This flexible pool of funds offers a second chance for exceptional students who narrowly miss other scholarship opportunities. Each year, we revisit our declined applicant pool and apply criteria that account for financial standing, cultural background and personal experience to identify candidates whose achievements were overlooked or undervalued. This year, seventeen students received awards that provided an average of $2,840.

Scholarships boost more than financial support and individual outcomes.

When we support students, they end up supporting our communities. Higher education helps build a skilled workforce for a healthy economy, and graduates become residents with the knowledge, resources and desire to solve local challenges. One recent recipient, Ashely Gomez, provides a glimpse of the promise in each scholarship award.

Student Story

Ashley Gomez was a top student when she graduated from Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, and enrolling in college amid a pandemic made perfect sense to her. Today, she’s a sophomore at Washington State University Vancouver pursuing business administration and applying her skills to assist her parents with their cleaning business. For Ashley, a second-generation immigrant and first-generation student, the opportunity provided through the General Scholarship Fund has been life changing. The award eased her reliance on work, which provided more time for her studies and campus activities. Leveraging this support, Ashley has earned high enough marks to join the Honor Society Foundation and serve as a peer mentor helping other students. After graduation, she hopes to continue contributing her skills to grow the family business and expand entrepreneurship in her community.

Support Local Students

With your help, more students can bridge financial gaps that can divert them from the best pathway to opportunity.

If this matters to you, please show your support with a year-end donation to the General Scholarship Fund. Your generosity will make an immediate difference for students like Belinda and Ashley and ultimately contribute to a more flourishing southwest Washington.