This article originally appeared in the Desert Sun

Since 1941, The Inland Empire Community Foundation has given local students a lift through its scholarship programs. November is National Scholarship Month, a time to highlight the importance of making funding available to students and to raise awareness of available opportunities for current and future college students.

Inland Empire Community Foundation was founded as the Riverside Distribution Committee, led by banker and local civic leader, Charles Brouse. Focusing on scholarships for students with financial need, the first awards were made through the Brouse Scholarship Program to students attending Riverside Community College and the University of California, Riverside.

Over the next 80 years, the organization has continued to grow its scholarship program, offering deserving students financial assistance with their educational aspirations. Annually, the organization averages one million dollars a year in scholarships to local students. These scholarships also demonstrate to our youth that they have local support and that the community believes in their ability to excel, according to the IECF.

“In 2020, over $4 million in scholarships and educational support were awarded to Inland students through the Foundation,” said Celia Cudiamat, Senior Vice President of Grants and Community Impact at IECF. “By providing scholarships to them, made possible by generous donors from the region, we are building a stronger future for the region.”

IECF works with every public college and university in Riverside and San Bernardino counties as well as universities across the nation. Many of these scholarships are awarded directly through local colleges and universities. Students with plans to enroll locally can check with their school counselor or financial aid office to see what might be available to them.

Additionally, IECF has scholarships that students can apply for directly. Guidelines and application information for each of these is available on the organization’s website. Students who are interested should begin investigating options now and start working on letters of reference.

Available scholarship programs available for residents of the Coachella Valley include the PGA WEST Education Fund for PGA WEST Country Club employees and their dependent children; as well as the Rancho La Quinta Country Club and Andalusia Country Club offering scholarship opportunities for their employees and their dependents, the James Buchner Memorial Scholarship Fund for seniors at Cathedral City High School, the Desert Outreach Foundation Scholarship for students residing in the Coachella Valley, the Bruce and Regen Dennis Scholarship for Latino students residing in the Coachella Valley, and the Cheney Family Scholarship for graduating students from the College of the Desert.

Michelle Fausto, a recipient of the Castro/Falk Scholarship exemplifies the students these scholarships support and their potential. Fausto is the daughter of Mexican immigrants who settled in Indio and the first generation of her family to graduate from high school and college.

The Castro/Falk Scholarship is awarded to Coachella Valley students who demonstrate motivation, perseverance, and a sincere desire to gain an education. Inspired by her parents’ sacrifices to build a better future for their family, Fausto pursued a dual major of political science and labor studies, graduating from UCLA. Her studies led her to an internship at Coachella Valley Rescue Mission where she engaged in anti-homeless advocacy and worked directly with individuals experiencing food insecurity.

Today, Fausto is a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship recipient helping to ensure that students at UC Irvine have food and housing security through Fresh Basic Needs Hub. Ultimately, Fausto hopes to return to the Coachella Valley and give back to her home community.

IECF continues to assist donors in creating new scholarship funds and encourages local philanthropists to consider helping build the region’s future by investing in the success of our youth. Individuals, families, nonprofits, businesses, and government organizations can establish a scholarship fund with IECF.

Funds may be named after their founder or in honor of a loved one. Donors also have the ability to grant scholarships anonymously. Working with IECF staff, philanthropists will get assistance in creating their fund, designing a scholarship program, and deciding on what makes an applicant eligible. Criteria can be based on need, merit, the direction of study, locale, and others.

Award payments are made directly to the educational institutions on behalf of the recipients. Donors also benefit from a tax deduction at the time of their contribution and the opportunity to connect with scholarship recipients if they choose.

More information: or 951.241.7777

Inland Empire Community Foundation works to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy.



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