Achieving the dream of a college education just got a little easier for eight first-generation college students, thanks to The Sequoias Portola Valley’s (SPV) resident-led Scholarship Committee and generous resident donors.
On July 17, SPV held its first annual Scholar Reception, which awarded college scholarships to eight children of SPV staff. With beaming faces and tears of pride, family members, staff, and residents celebrated the students and their powerful stories of achievement and hope.
“The scholarship program started out of awe and deep thankfulness to our hard-working, loyal staff, many of whom have had extremely difficult challenges,” said Pat Skillman, Chair of the SPV Scholarship Committee. “For many of them, the idea of a higher education for their children and grandchildren is only a dream. So, we thought, let’s honor our staff and their families with scholarships!”
Inspired by scholarship programs at The Sequoias San Francisco and The Tamalpais, SPV Scholarship Committee members Helen Bigelow, James Coker, Kirsten Kingdon, Nancy Peterson, Steve Ross, and Pat Skillman began organizing the SPV scholarship fund more than a year ago.
Jim McCauley, Scholarship Chair at The Tamalpais; and Bob Kriegel, Scholarship Chair at The Sequoias San Francisco, were instrumental in shaping SPV’s scholarship program, Skillman said. “Jim and Bob spent hours with me by email and phone, sharing their experiences and giving advice,” she recalled. “Without their consistent, willing, and generous help we simply could not have achieved the success we did.”
The SPV Scholarship Committee partnered with the nonprofit 10,000 Degrees, whose staff guides students through the college application process, administers the scholarship, and provides ongoing mentoring and guidance. Unlike many college scholarships, 10,000 Degrees scholarships are based solely on financial need. 100% of 10,000 Degrees students come from low-income backgrounds, 89% are of color, and 85% are the first in their families to go to college. 10,000 Degrees also partners with The Sequoias San Francisco and The Tamalpais for their scholarship programs.
SPV’s scholars will attend California State University at Sacramento, Pepperdine University, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, Stanford University, University of California at Santa Barbara, and University of San Diego. Although this year’s scholars happen to be attending colleges, the program also welcomes students looking for trade training, technical training, or continuing education units.
Congratulations and best wishes to this year’s scholars and their families!