UC Berkeley’s African American Initiative grants its 1st set of scholarships to 28 incoming Black students

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Gracie Malley/File

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The UC Berkeley African American Initiative has offered the first set of scholarships to Black students for the fall 2018 semester.

The initiative is a “a comprehensive effort to address the underrepresentation of African American students, faculty, and staff,” according to the UC Berkeley Division of Equity & Inclusion’s website. While 40 students were interviewed, only 28 were ultimately granted the scholarship, which was administered by the Cal Alumni Association.

“In-person and virtual interviews were held at the Alumni House over three days in mid-April,” said campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore in an email. “The Black Alumni Club played a significant role in recruiting volunteer interviewers. For the first year of scholarship awards, financial need was the criteria.”

Each student will be granted $8,000 annually, with the maximum amount being $40,000 over the course of 5 years.

The San Francisco Foundation, a large community foundation that engages in grant-making, according to its website, funded the scholarship by approaching several individuals for donations and using money from its own endowment.

“We are about creating a more equitable Bay Area,” said Ruben Orduña, the foundation’s vice president of development and donor services. “Part of the work we do is find opportunities, help create opportunities and remove systemic barriers.”

According to Gilmore, campus administration reviewed the results of the UC Undergraduate Experience Survey, or UCUES, which revealed that factors such as lack of financial support, a low number of Black students on campus and “hostile and isolating” climates contribute to Black students accepting admission elsewhere.

Financial assistance is one of many efforts toward increasing the number of Black students enrolled on campus, according to Gilmore.

“The purpose of the scholarship is to encourage more of these talented admitted students to enroll here,” Gilmore said in an email. “We were pleased that so many students who were offered the scholarship did enroll here.”

Contact Aarya Gupta at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @aaryagupta.