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Finding College Scholarships

Even if you’re not ready to apply to college just yet, exploring funding options now can help set your and your parents’ minds at ease about the college application process and may reduce the amount of work you have to do later. Most colleges and universities offer tuition assistance to students with financial need through a combination of school and government grants, campus jobs and student loans. However, outside scholarships can help bridge the gap between what the school provides and what your family can pay – as well as cover additional costs, such as rent, food, books, transportation, fees and other expenses. Corporations, private foundations, nonprofits, religious organizations, advocacy groups and other sponsors offer tens of thousands of dollars in college scholarships to incoming students every year. In fact, ECCLA even offers a small scholarship each year which students in our service area can apply for. (Learn more here.)

Gates Millennium Scholars on an Alternative Spring Break trip. (Evelyn Obamos, Flickr)

Gates Millennium Scholars on an Alternative Spring Break trip. (Evelyn Obamos, Flickr)

There is no limit to how many of these programs you can apply for, though each will have its own specific eligibility requirements which you should pay attention to. In order to give yourself plenty of time you have to find and apply for scholarships, we suggest you start your search the summer before your senior year of high school. However, many programs do not release application information until later in the year, and most scholarship applications are not due until the winter or spring.

Where to Look

Did you know there are websites specifically designed to help you find scholarships for college? These databases have information on billions of dollars worth of scholarship funding, and you can search based on academic program, financial need, grade level, background and other criteria specific to you. Watch out for scams though: you should never pay to get information about scholarships, or provide personal information such as your social security number. (See the U.S. Dept. of Education guidelines on avoiding scams while searching for scholarships.) Some sites may ask you for your zip code to help you find scholarships specific to your area.

Fastweb: Create a free profile and search over 1.5 million scholarships for programs that match your strengths and financial needs. Fastweb offers specific databases of scholarships for Hispanic, African-American and bilingual students, as well as application tips, financial aid and career planning resources. Fastweb also offers special membership for educators who want to engage their students in the scholarship and financial aid process.

College Board Scholarship Search: Scholarships, other financial aid and internships from more than 2,200 programs, totaling nearly $6 billion. Search by personal information, academic information, award type and affiliation; or browse by award sponsor name. Information based on the College Board’s Annual Survey of Financial Aid Programs.

CareerOneStop Scholarship Search: A U.S. Dept. of Labor-sponsored database of over 7,000 scholarships, fellowships, loans and other financial aid opportunities. Search by award type, residence preference, study level and affiliation; or by keyword.

In addition to these databases, remember to use existing resources in your community or school as you search for scholarship opportunities. Ask your teachers, counselor, coaches, youth group leader or fellow students if they know of any scholarships you could apply for. And don’t forget to do research on the specific college or colleges you apply to, to see what sort of scholarships and financial aid options they offer that you might be eligible for.


Featured Scholarships

The following is a list of scholarship opportunities we have compiled specifically for Central and South Los Angeles students. The award amount and application deadline is provided for each scholarship listed, followed by a short description of the program. Some scholarships have specific eligibility requirements related to a student’s identity, background or anticipated area of study. Most require some degree of demonstrated financial need. This list is by no means exhaustive, and you are encouraged to do your own research in your community or by using the resources  provided above. Remember, you should never have to pay to submit a scholarship application (though some may require you to submit an admissions application to a specific university or college, which usually requires a fee).

Scholarships are listed in alphabetical order. We will update this page regularly throughout the academic year with deadline information and new opportunities we hear about. Check back often!

Note: The scholarships listed and the organizations that sponsor them are not affiliated with ECCLA in any way. You should direct any inquiries or application materials to the sponsoring organization.


Asian Pacific Fund

Award Amount: $1,000-$20,000 depending on scholarship program

Application Deadline: Varies, depending on scholarship program

The Asian Pacific Fund administers 12 scholarship programs that provide funding to undergraduate and graduate students, each with their own criteria. This includes programs tailored to personal interests (such as engineering, business or journalism), or backgrounds (such as children of farm or restaurant workers).

For a full list of programs and application information, click here.


California Chafee Grant for Foster Youth

Award Amount: Up to $5,000 depending on college of attendance and financial need

Application Deadline: Rolling

If you are or were in foster care and have financial need, you may qualify for up to $5,000 a year for career and technical training or college. You can use your Chafee Grant at any eligible California college or university or career or technical school, as well as schools in other states. You may also be able to use your grant to help pay for child care, transportation and rent while you’re in school. The California Department of Social Services will verify your foster youth eligibility status. The Chafee Grant is renewable each year through your 23rd birthday.

Apply Now


California Middle Class Scholarship

Award Amount: Up to 20% of the mandatory systemwide tuition and fees

Application Deadline: March 2, 2016

The California Middle Class Scholarship is a program that provides undergraduate students with family incomes up to $150,000 and a maximum annual household asset amount of $150,000, a scholarship to attend University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) campuses.

Apply Now


CRAEF Scholarship Program

Award Amount: Varies

Application Deadline: May 2016

The California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (CRAEF) awards a number of scholarships to students interested in pursuing higher education in the restaurant, food service and hospitality industries. High school seniors entering their first year of college must have a minimum 250 hours of industry-related work experience, paid or voluntary, in order to be eligible.

Apply Now


Friends of the California State Fair Scholarship

Award Amount: $500-$7,500

Application Deadline: March 2016

The Friends of the California State Fair Scholarship seeks to motivate well-rounded, high academic achievers in pursuit of their careers and life goals. A number of scholarships of varying value are available in different categories. Applicants will be evaluated on the basis of their personal commitment and goals established for their chosen field, leadership potential, civic accomplishments, as well as qualifications for the category entered and the completeness of the application packet

Application will be made available in January 2016 on the Friends of the Fair website.


Gates Millennium Scholars Program

Award Amount: Determined based on financial need

Application Deadline: January 13, 2016

The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program was established in 1999 to provide outstanding African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline area of interest. Award is renewable throughout undergraduate study for scholars maintaining satisfactory academic progress; and for graduate study in the areas of computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science.

Apply Now


Hispanic Scholarship Fund General College Scholarship

Award Amount: $500-$5000

Application Deadline: April 2016

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund provides scholarships to assist students of Hispanic/Latino origin obtain a college degree. Scholarships are merit-based, however the final award amount is determined by the financial need of the recipient once selected. All majors and graduate areas of study are eligible; however the program places an emphasis on STEM fields. For complete eligibility information, see the FAQ.

Apply Now


Korean American Scholarship Foundation

Award Amount: $500

Application Deadline: July 2016

The Korean American Scholarship Foundation (KASF) provides scholarships to high-achieving Korean American students with financial need. California high school seniors should apply to the Western Regional Chapter and must be attending college in a designated Western region state (see website for details).

Applications will be made available online in April 2016


Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant Program

Award Amount: $100-$12,000 depending on financial need

Application Deadline: Applications accepted throughout academic year

The Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant Program provides need-based educational grants to dependents and spouses of: California peace officers (Highway Patrol, marshals, sheriffs, police officers), Department of Corrections and California Youth Authority employees, and permanent/full-time firefighters employed by public entities who have been killed or totally disabled in the performance of duty. Grant awards match the amount of a Cal Grant award and are renewable for up to four years.

Apply Now


Los Angeles Frontrunners LGBT Athletic Scholarship

Amount: $1000

Application Deadline: May 2016

Each year, the Los Angeles Frontrunners (LAFR) awards two $1,000 scholarships to college-bound high school seniors who have participated in athletics and demonstrated a commitment to advancing the civil rights of LGBT people. Students can download the application from the LAFR website, and should submit it along with a personal statement and two letters of recommendation.

Application will be made available online in 2016.


The Achievement Award Program at UC Berkeley

Award Amount: $6,000 per year and a laptop

Application Deadline: February 2016

The Achievement Award Program provides financial assistance and supportive programming to incoming, high-achieving Cal students with financial need. TAAP Scholars attend meetings and events throughout their their college career and participate in community outreach with pre-collegiate students. Prospective students file the UC application and can then apply online for TAAP beginning in December.

Applications will be made available online in December 2015.


Does LAUSD’s Use Of Local Control Funding Serve High Needs Students?

(Seth Sawyers/Flickr)

(Seth Sawyers/Flickr)

How much control does a school district really have when it comes to spending Local Control education funds?

A lawsuit filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges that improper accounting by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) shortchanges high needs students of funds they are entitled to receive under the Local Control Funding Formula.

The suit was filed by Public Advocates, Covington & Burling LLP and the ACLU of Southern California, on behalf of the Community Coalition of South Los Angeles and LAUSD parent Reyna Frias.

The Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, is designed to increase state education funds toward K-12 students who are either low-income, English-language learners or in the foster care system. Each year, school districts receive extra funding—known as supplementary and concentration grants—which attempt to close the gap between how much funding these populations of students currently receive and how much the formula says they should actually get.

According to the lawsuit, however, more than half of the $700 million the district reported spending on services for high needs students during the 2013-14 school year was actually spent on special education services instead. LAUSD has previously stated that they find this inclusion to be reasonable: 79 percent of the students in the district who receive special education services are also identified as low income, English learners or foster youth. In its statement on the lawsuit, the district says that the plaintiffs have misinterpreted the law:

“The Legislature clearly granted school districts — which serve predominantly low-income students, foster youth and English language learners — the highest degree of flexibility in determining student program needs.”

But the organizations behind the suit say this isn’t fair—LCFF funds are supposed to be used for services that specifically address learning challenges based on income, language and foster placement, and in addition to services that are already required by law, like special education. They argue that the district is artificially inflating how much it already spends on high needs students, thus reducing its funding obligations to these students by hundreds of millions of dollars for the following school years.

How does Local Control funding work?

To understand where the plaintiffs believe the district went wrong, we have to look a little closer at Local Control.

The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which took effect in 2013, shifts the responsibility for the allocation of K-12 funding from the state to school districts. Unlike a traditional funding scheme, where a fixed number of dollars is granted to districts per number of students enrolled, the LCFF includes three types of grants, which are designed to provide a greater portion of state education dollars to disadvantaged students.

Under the LCFF, in addition to the traditional, per-student base grants, school districts receive a “supplemental grant,” equal to 20 percent of the base grant, per student who is an English language learner, low-income or in the foster care system. Districts like LAUSD, where more than 55 percent of enrolled students meet one or more of these criteria, also receive a “concentration grant” equal to 50 percent of the base, for every student above the 55 percent line.

Put simply, LCFF is based on the idea that some student populations face greater challenges to their education than others, and thus deserve a greater share of state funds. This was the logic invoked by Governor Jerry Brown when he first proposed the formula back in January of 2013:

“This formula recognizes the fact that a child in a family making $20,000 a year or speaking a language different from English or living in a foster home requires more help,” Brown said. Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice.”

Because 84 percent of LAUSD’s enrolled students meet one or more of the targeted criteria, the district qualifies for over one billion dollars in supplemental and concentration grants per year.

There’s a catch, however. The LCFF determines a target amount for allocating funding to schools. But districts can’t meet their funding targets until the state increases education spending enough to cover the costs. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that won’t be until at least 2020. In the meantime, the Board of Education has introduced a graduated funding scheme, which awards those districts furthest away from meeting their targets larger annual increases in funding. The amount of money a school receives in grants for high-needs students is thus determined by the district’s expenditures on services for these students the year before.

Keeping districts accountable

As a condition of their increased authority over the use of funds, school districts across the state are required by law to adopt a “Local Control and Accountability Plan” (LCAP), which outlines district-specific goals, and the actions and expenditures necessary to meet those goals. This is also where districts calculate how much money they are already spending on services for students targeted by LCFF.

What counts as “services” is where the district and the plaintiffs disagree. According to regulations passed by the State Board of Education, school districts are required to use supplemental and concentration grant funds specifically to “increase or improve services” for the students targeted by these grants. There are a multitude of services in which schools might choose to invest in order to support these particular students, such as instructional support, after-school care, health education, trauma-informed counseling, safety training, English learner coaches, parent liaisons or professional development for staff.

According to the lawsuit, however, special education isn’t one of them. Rather, it is a distinct spending need the district should already be addressing.

“If the lawsuit prevails,” an ACLU statement said, “special education students would still receive the same level of services they are now, but LAUSD would be required to invest more money to develop new or improved services for high need students targeted under LCFF, who make up 84 percent of the district’s student population.”

The Court’s decision in this case may thus set a precedent for how the state, and schools, is expected to respond to the intersecting learning challenges facing so many of L.A.’s students.


For more information on the Local Control Funding Formula and the LAUSD suit, see the following resources:

LCFF Frequently Asked Questions, California Department of Education

“A Primer on the LAUSD LCFF Spending Case,” Public Advocates

LAUSD Local Control and Accountability Plan, 2015-16


Information used in the writing of this article was taken in part from materials prepared by the California Budget and Policy Center.

Summer Professional Development Opportunities for L.A. Educators

Summer is the perfect time for teachers to connect with one another and hone their teaching craft through programs and workshops. This summer, ECCLA has compiled a list of professional development opportunities for educators in Central and South Los Angeles. We will be updating this list throughout the summer, so be sure to check back regularly. Click on a link to learn more.

L.A. County Arts For All Professional Development Directory

L.A. County Arts For All regularly updates its database of quality, local and national, peer reviewed providers of arts education professional development for K-12 educators in and around Los Angeles. Search by workshop participants, arts discipline, delivery approach and more. A great tool for individual teachers or school administrators looking for a program to match their specific needs.

Search now!

Mummies: New Secrets From The Tombs

August 1, 2015, 9am-1pm

The Natural History Museum invites educators to a special workshop in preparation for their incoming exhibit – Mummies: New Secrets From The Tombs. Learn about Peruvian and Egyptian cultures associated with the exhibit — plus receive priority booking when the exhibit opens up for school tours September 21! This workshop is free.

Learn more and register here.

LAEP Summer Conference

Los Angeles Education Partnership is offering a variety of professional development workshops over the course of six weeks this summer. Workshops range from two to four days in length and will be held at the LA Time Building. Registration is still open for the following programs:

  • Teachers’ Center/Solutions-Based Learning: Teacher teams create a Common Core standards-based, thematic, interdisciplinary unit and a culminating essay prompt and/or interdisciplinary project-based unit. July 27-30; Rate: $365 per person.
  • Adaptive Schools: As we transition into the Common Core State Standards, schools must simultaneously address professional development of individual educators; development of the organization’s capacity to learn, and be adaptive. The goal is to develop the collective identity and capacity of organization members as collaborators and inquirers. August 3-6; Rate: $337 per person.
  • Differentiation in the Classroom: Teachers will learn how to address the needs of a variety of learners through strategies such as flexible grouping, scaffolding, and front-loading vocabulary. August 10-11; Rate: $273 per person.

Download the Summer Conference flier here. Register here.

UCLA Center X Programs for Teachers (Ongoing)

UCLA Center X offers a variety of professional development workshops and other events for teachers throughout the summer and academic year. Offerings cover a range of academic subjects and student grade levels. Stipends occasionally available. Click here for a full list of events. Programs are added regularly.