Koret Foundation gives $2M in scholarships for UC Berkeley students

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At UC Berkeley, the $2 million grant will be used to support outreach to high schools to identify prospective STEM students from underrepresented backgrounds.

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The Koret Foundation will be providing $2 million in scholarships for first-generation, low-income and underrepresented minority UC Berkeley students who are struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Announced in a press release from the foundation, the scholarships are part of nearly $10 million in scholarship funding being offered to nine Bay Area colleges and universities through the Koret Scholars Program. Launched in 2016 on eight campuses, the Koret Scholars Program aims to respond to low college persistence and graduation rates of underserved students.

“Grounded in historical Jewish principles and traditions, and dedicated to humanitarian values, the Foundation is committed to innovation, testing new ideas, and serving as a catalyst by bringing people and organizations together to help solve societal and systemic problems of common concern,” the press release states.

According to the press release, these funds are “especially vital” as many students have lost access to on- and off-campus work that helped pay tuition, with some students also requiring emergency assistance in obtaining food, basic needs and technology for distance learning.

The $2 million grant, along with the other grants offered to other higher education institutions in the Bay Area, is an extension of the Koret Scholars Program. Over the next five years, 1,990 scholarships will be disbursed with a combined total of $9.5 million, according to the press release.

The foundation has provided funding supporting students in both higher education and K-12 for many years, according to Koret Foundation Senior Program officer Ashley Rodwick.

“A key feature of the Koret Scholars program is that each university designs its own model for its unique student population—flexibility that has proven critical as universities grapple with remote learning, hybrid classes and alternate schedules for the fall, in response to COVID–19,” reads the press release.

While program specifics are unique to each campus, they will usually come in one of two formats – a general scholarship for students or funding for “high-impact” learning opportunities for students, the press release states.

At UC Berkeley, the $2 million grant will be used to support outreach to high schools to identify prospective STEM students from underrepresented backgrounds. It will also be used to develop learning opportunities including mentorships and lab experience, according to the press release.

Other campuses benefiting from the scholarship include UC Davis, Santa Clara University, Sonoma State University, UC Santa Cruz, University of San Francisco, San Jose State University, Cal State Monterey Bay and City College of San Francisco.

“Right now all of the colleges in the Bay Area and beyond are really grappling with changes in their learning models and COVID-19,” Rodwick said. “(The program) is allowing the schools to do what they need to do to serve the students.”

Contact Sabrina Dong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sabrina_dong_.