Stepping up: UCLA Foundation gives $ 5 million for student financial aid


Ahe high school student at Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnets, Jelani Mora knew he wanted to go to college, but he didn’t know where to start and what to do. Since he would be the first in his family to attend college, the idea was quite daunting, from preparing for and paying for his college entrance exams, to navigating applications for federal Pell grants and scholarships. Fortunately, he found guidance and help from some UCLA students, who served as mentors and motivated him to pursue higher education.

Mora met these Bruins weekly at UCLA Vice-provost initiative for pre-university scholarship holders, or VIPS program, which partners with Los Angeles County school districts to help students become competitive for admission to UCLA and other top universities. As part of the program, Mora not only met with UCLA students every week to review things like admission requirements, he also spent two summers taking college classes on campus, where he worked. learned the value of a college degree.

But when he was admitted to UCLA – his dream school since he was in fourth grade – Mora worried about how he and his family would pay for college.

“If I didn’t have the Chancellor’s Blue and Gold Scholarship, among my other scholarships, I wouldn’t be at UCLA,” said Mora, who is now studying political science. Established in 1998, the Blue and Gold Scholarship is distributed to top performing Los Angeles County high school students who historically have sent few students to UCLA.

Craig Ehrlich, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the UCLA Foundation

“I come from modest means, and there would be no way my family could afford college,” Mora said.

Hearing how a student like Mora was able to become a Bruin and thrive is what drives Craig Ehrlich in his role as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the UCLA Foundation. With the COVID-19 pandemic plunging the world into a severe economic downturn, Ehrlich and members of the foundation board felt it was particularly important for them to act and do even more to ensure that an education at UCLA remains accessible to deserving students.

The foundation, whose primary mission is to develop and promote philanthropy for UCLA, has increased its quarterly endowment payout from 4.25% to 5%. The result is a distribution of $ 129 million to campus fund holders in the 2020-2021 fiscal year – with an additional $ 5 million allocated to support students through financial aid and programs.

“I got to see UCLA doing things that just change people’s lives,” said Ehrlich, a 1978 graduate. “The importance of what UCLA has created brings great pride, and I hope Tie it all back to those 5 million. “

Among the funds currently allocated:

  • $ 1 Million to Go to Chancellor’s Blue and Gold Scholarship Fund
  • $ 1 Million to Go to UCLA Black Alumni Association’s Winston C. Doby Legacy Scholarship Fund
  • $ 1 million to go to UCLA’s COVID Emergency Fund for UCLA admissions
  • $ 900,000 will go to emergency support in the areas of mental health, leadership training and basic needs / crisis response
  • $ 160,000 will go to government student program funds and internships

“With the current situation, with the financial difficulties very apparent, the goal is to get this money into the systems immediately to have an immediate impact,” said Ehrlich, a Los Angeles native who grew up in public schools. “The students have no money for the bus. They don’t have apartment rent for a month. They have no food. These emergencies have escalated due to COVID. “

The foundation worked closely with Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, vice-president of enrollment management, to determine which areas of UCLA need it most.

“These priorities recognize the unequal burden that middle and low income families face in tough economic times,” said Copeland-Morgan. “We hear about families having difficulty paying their rent or their family expenses. But what we don’t hear about are the ways in which students feel pressured into taking on more debt or working to support their families. For students from middle and low income families, when the family suffers financially, it places an additional burden on them because they want to give back in any way they can.

Michelle johnson

Michelle Johnson, president of the UCLA Black Alumni Association

Preserving the legacy

When Michelle Johnson, president of the UCLA Black Alumni Association, heard about the UCLA Foundation’s $ 1 million donation to the Doby Legacy Fellowship, she said she could “barely contain herself.”

“I was just overwhelmed,” Johnson said. “I was trying to be cool, calm and collected on Zoom, but I wanted to turn off my video and scream! It was great news.

The $ 1 million donation will be distributed annually in the form of $ 10,000 scholarships to up to 25 students over a four-year period, with UCLA providing a 3-to-1 match for each scholarship.

Established in 2007, the Doby Legacy Scholarship helps increase the number of black students at UCLA, which became even more important after Proposition 209 banned affirmative action in California. Managed by the California Community Foundation, the scholarship has distributed more than $ 3.4 million to more than 700 black students.

“UCLA has seen a steady increase in black enrollments, and a big part of that has been our ability to offer competitive scholarships,” said Robert Grace, UCLA Black board chair. Alumni Association. “The foundation’s donation will help us focus our attention on a greater number of middle and low-income black students who are admitted but may not be eligible for a scholarship, purely on the basis of their merit.” . It’s going to have a big impact overall.

Blue and gold sprinkles

The foundation’s donation to the Chancellor’s Blue and Gold Scholarship Fund will help both high school and community college transfer students in the Los Angeles area. Currently, the fund spends over $ 1 million per year on scholarships, supporting approximately 350 students, who each receive up to $ 5,000 per year.

“I had calculated my budget, and if I hadn’t gotten the scholarship, I probably wouldn’t go to UCLA in the first place,” said Villy Basuki, another Blue and Gold scholarship recipient. A transfer student from Los Angeles Pierce College, Basuki earned a degree in sociology and a double minor in global health and global studies in June – while juggling the responsibilities of being a parent student and working full-time.

“It was really stressful, especially in my freshman year,” Basuki said. “As a first generation student, I had a blurry view of navigating the UC system. She attributes her success to the abundance of resources at UCLA, including the Academic Advancement Program and the Community College Partnership Center, or CCCP, which helps transfer students from community colleges prepare and compete. Basuki became a peer mentor at CCCP to help other students prepare to move to a four-year college.

She was also involved in other resources near the campus, for example as an intern at the 580 Coffee, a community space for students that offers free food, Wi-Fi, and a safe place to study.

“I found my own community – something I never thought I would find at UCLA,” said Basuki, who is studying for a Master of Science in Healthcare Management at Cal State Los Angeles. “I think being a Bruin is a lifelong identity for me.”

The power of philanthropy

Helping students find their identity as Lifetime Bruins is so important to the foundation, Ehrlich noted, because UCLA’s academic excellence, research, innovation, and service are so important to the community. The foundation’s $ 5 million donation will go a long way in advancing the university’s commitment to accessibility and diversity – from students able to fulfill their dreams of attending UCLA, to dedicated staff and faculty. to ensure that everyone has the resources they need to achieve their objective goals.

“The gift of money goes beyond dollar value. The gift of philanthropy opens up opportunities for students, ”explained Copeland-Morgan. “Foundation members focus on the experiences of our current and new Bruins, and they know that their good work increases the opportunities for us to do a better job through their generosity. “

This generosity and what she gives is the reason why Mora is so excited about her future. After graduating, he plans to pursue a career with a Bay Area public transportation agency.

“It’s very rewarding to be a Bruin. I’m so proud, ”said Mora, who thinks UCLA’s many resources and supportive community have been invaluable to her college experience. “My parents and my grandmother love to tell everyone this. They’ll say to someone at the grocery store, “Oh, yeah, my son is going to UCLA. And then I’m embarrassed.