Scholarship applications are now open through the Inland Empire Community Foundation (IECF) website. While most of the scholarships available through IECF are awarded through the colleges and universities in the region, students also have opportunities they can apply for directly.

Scholarship seekers wishing to apply directly through the Foundation will find that the application has been simplified to direct them to all the opportunities for which they are eligible to apply.

“It’s an easy process that will allow our students to be eligible for more than one opportunity,” Youth Initiatives Manager, Denisha Shackleford said. “We have some amazing donors in our two-county region that want to see our students thrive, succeed and come back to work in our region.”

Applicants can visit the students’ page on the IECF website and click on the common application portal. After creating an account, applicants can then fill in a single application that includes questions linked to various scholarship opportunities. Once the applicant has completed the common application, the system will provide them with their qualified opportunities.

Applicants should have their FAFSA paperwork and transcripts available while filling out the form. Students must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 and reside in San Bernardino or Riverside County. The common application portal also allows applicants to provide the names and email addresses of their references. References will be emailed directly and be able to respond with their letters of recommendation directly to the scholarship portal.

Gathering letters of recommendation can be challenging for applicants, who often wait until the last minute, according to Shackleford. By confirming with their references and sending them a request for a recommendation directly through the Common Application Portal, students can expedite the process.

Scholarships are available for graduating seniors, current college students as well as adult re-entry students. In addition to funding for four-year universities and community colleges, there are also scholarships that support studies in career or technical colleges.

IECF recognizes that many resident students are facing new challenges with the current economy. In addition to academic pressures created by virtual learning, more students are homeless than in past years, according to Shackleford. There are also more families with economic hardships. Many of the scholarships address additional financial needs.

“Our donors are aware of what is happening in the world with COVID and now post-COVID challenges,” Shackleford said. “Knowing that students may be homeless or facing food insecurity, donors have increased the scholarships to help them so that they can concentrate on their studies.”

In 2021, IECF awarded $3.2 million in scholarship funds. This year, there are more than 30 scholarship opportunities available through the Common Scholarship Application process with awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. There are also a few scholarship opportunities that may renew over multiple years, offering further assistance through a student’s undergraduate schooling.

The deadline to finish the Common Scholarship Application is April 15, 2023, at 5:00 PM PST. Applicants will be notified of decisions by June 1, 2023.

Shackleford encourages all eligible students to apply and to apply early so they can address questions or technical challenges. IECF is available for technical support and also partners with local organizations to provide college guidance services. This network of partners includes BLU Educational Foundation, Promise Scholars, Making Hope Happen Foundation, One Future and Upward Bound through California State University, San Bernardino.

IECF plans to continue growing scholarship giving in the region and its Graduate Success program, which is designed to increase students’ potential to access higher education and succeed. Individuals interested in supporting the program can donate to the Graduate Success Fund or contact IECF for information on starting their own scholarship opportunity.

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