Providing intensive support to low-income female students in Southern California to prepare them to apply for, be admitted to, and succeed in top colleges and universities

1030 Columbia Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711

Countries Served
United States



Extremely capable high school girls from low-income families often lack the resources or support at home or at school to pursue higher education. Many come from families with no exposure to college, and too many of these students are “tracked” out of college attendance by high school guidance counselors.

Furthermore, even top students often focus on less-selective colleges because they believe they will be less expensive and for fear of their capacity to compete at top schools. Yet top schools often have more resources to help students who arrive with gaps in skills or experience, and many provide more scholarship support, reducing the student debt burden.

Programs Offered

Scripps College Academy (SCA) serves more than 325 middle and high school students each year through the following four programs:

SCA Scholars is an intensive, multi-year program for high-achieving female students with limited resources who seek to become the first generation in their families to attend college. As high school freshman or sophomores, Scholars attend a two-week Summer Residential Program and experience what it is like to live among their peers and study at a private liberal arts institution. For many, this is their first time on a college campus and their first experience living away from home.

Following the summer, Scholars attend weekend activities for the remainder of their high school years, including faculty-led book clubs, science research opportunities, college entrance exam preparation classes, and field trips to museums and other cultural centers. Scholars and their families receive individualized assistance throughout the college application and financial aid processes. Through the close partnership with Scripps College, participants benefit from long-term support from college faculty, professional staff, and undergraduate mentors.

College Club helps low-income 8th grade students begin high school on a college-prep path. Through partnerships with local middle schools, trained Scripps College undergraduates lead a series of workshops on success in high school and preparing for college. Workshop leaders are often first-generation college students themselves. Participants conclude the semester with a day on the Scripps College campus.

Campus Call provides 9th grade female students the opportunity to learn about liberal arts colleges, all-women’s institutions, and the difference between

private and public schools. During the spring semester, SCA works with up to four Title 1 high schools. These schools predominantly serve underrepresented, low-income students and/or demonstrate a need for college access programs. Participants are invited to spend a day on the Scripps College campus, where they learn more about liberal arts colleges, meet Scripps College students, and tour the campus.

STRIVE is a college completion and retention program for SCA alumni who are enrolled at two- and four-year colleges and universities. The goal of STRIVE is to encourage and support SCA alumni all the way through higher-education completion. This is achieved by periodic telephone check-ins, mailing out care packages, and the College Summit summer program. College Summit brings alumni back on campus for workshops on topics such as transitioning from high school to college and what to expect when studying abroad. In addition to these initiatives, all alumni are placed in “teams” at their respective colleges. Within these peer groups, they plan dinners, study sessions, and general get-togethers to support each other and build community.

Historical Results

Since the first cadre of SCA Scholars graduated from high school in 2005, SCA Scholars have enrolled in more than 75 colleges and universities across the country. 90% of these students are the first in their family to attend college.

100% of the class of 2017 will enroll directly into a four-year college or university. 65.9% will attend a “very selective” or “most selective” school, 46.8% will attend private institutions, including Dartmouth, USC, and Scripps. 44.6% will attend a University of California campus, and 4.2% will attend a California State University campus.

Use Of Funds

Scripps College Academy is funded through a mix of financial and in-kind support from Scripps College and from individual donations. Individual gifts have the following impacts:

  • $1,000 sponsors one year of the SCA Scholars experience for one student.
  • $1,375 funds the College Club at one middle school, reaching ~35 students.
  • $50,000 funds the current SCA Scholars senior class.

Path to Credibility

Focusing Philanthropy staff members routinely interact with Scripps College Academy’s senior leadership.

Since 2012, Focusing Philanthropy staff have conducted seven program site visits to observe various elements of SCA’s offerings. These include multiple visits to the Summer Residential Program–midway and at the culmination of the two-week curriculum–as well as visits during the academic school year to SCA Saturday workshops on the topics of the college application process and financial aid.

In 2010, Scripps College Academy won the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award, the highest recognition for youth-oriented programs in the United States. The award was presented by former First Lady Michelle Obama at a White House ceremony.

The founders of Focusing Philanthropy are substantial donors to the Scripps College Academy.

→ Read Program Site Visit Report

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