• Mission: The mission of MVLA Scholars, a program of Los Altos Community Foundation, is to help local, low-income, first-generation students achieve their dreams of earning college degrees and attaining professional positions.
MVLA Scholars’ approach starts in the high school classroom and goes through college graduation and beyond, offering high school mentoring. The nonprofit guides approximately 150 local high school juniors and seniors through the college admissions, financial aid and scholarship application processes, as well as the college selection process.
Every year the program awards approximately 150 scholarships in amounts ranging from $2,000 to $6,000. Scholars receive scholarship funds every year that they are in college.
With MVLA Scholars’ one-on-one college mentoring, scholars receive assistance with academic concerns, setting budgets and managing their time, as well as general support and encouragement.
The organization’s career support services offer scholars help with resumes and cover letters, and assistance in finding internships and full-time professional positions. An Internship Scholarship Program enables students to take unpaid or low-paying internships in their field of study.
This multidimensional approach has resulted in a college graduation rate of 90%, compared to national averages of 50% for the same demographic.
• 2020 update: Each March, MVLA Scholars employs a rigorous selection process to identify a new class of college scholars. Important criteria are financial need (average family income of below $50,000) and being a first-generation college student. Additional considerations include academic achievement, the ability to overcome obstacles and a strong desire to work for success. This year 32 new scholars were accepted into the program.
Last summer the college students faced a significant challenge – because of the pandemic, many of them were not able to find summer jobs or internships. To address the challenge, MVLA Scholars funded twice as many unpaid internships and independent study opportunities as in previous years.
• Why the Holiday Fund is needed: The pandemic has taken a toll on the employment and earnings of most of the program’s students and their families, many of whom are essential workers in the community. The need is greater than ever before – for both college scholarships and summer internships. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted low-income individuals and may have particular long-term effects on college students aiming to rise out of poverty.
As a 100% volunteer-run organization, all funds donated to MVLA Scholars go directly to college scholarships.
Location: 183 Hillview Ave., Los Altos
Annual budget: $500,000
Staff: 150 volunteers