Philanthropy Fridays – South Central Scholars Program – Helping Underprivileged Kids get into and Stay in College


Today I am featuring the SOUTH CENTRAL SCHOLARS program – a remarkable program in Los Angeles that should serve as an example for cities around the nation, indeed around the world. Here is the information provided to me by the program organization which is supported by my good friend, Joan Herman, former President and CEO of the Consummer Business unit of Anthem Blue Cross/Wellpoint.

Here is how the program started, and then a description of how it all works.

How it all started


Miles Corwin ( Author of ‘And Still We Rise: The Trials and Triumphs of Twelve Inner-City Students’)

“My involvement with gifted inner city students began at a homicide scene in South Central Los Angeles. A teenage boy was splayed out on a street corner, with several gunshot wounds to the chest. He died before paramedics arrived. The two detectives could find no wallet and no identification on the boy, so the coroner’s investigator called him John Doe Number 27. A closer inspection of the body revealed an exam on the French Revolution neatly folded in his back pocket. The boy’s printing was meticulous, each letter precise and carefully drawn. And every one of the boy’s answers on the exam was reasoned, thoughtful, and well written. At the top of the paper the teacher had written a large “A”. John Doe Number 27 was a fifteen-year old boy who attended a junior high school program for gifted students. He was walking home, when a group of gang members in a van stopped him without any apparent reason, shot and killed him. I had written many stories about gangbangers. I decided I wanted to find a way to write about the other children of South Central, the students who avoid the temptations of the street, who strive for success, who against all odds, in one of America’s most impoverished, crime-ridden neighborhoods manage to endure, to prevail, to succeed. I spent a year at a gifted magnet program at Crenshaw High School. I wrote a book about the students in the program. All of the students I wrote about faced tremendous academic disadvantages. Academic disadvantages were the least of their difficulties. I followed the lives of students who lived in foster homes because they were abandoned or abused by their parents. I followed academic achievers, whose only family income was the welfare check, students with fathers or brothers in prison, students who were raised in crumbling housing projects. I wrote about students who were the sons and daughters of maids and crack addicts, street sweepers and street people. A writer always hopes his words will make a difference. I was lucky enough to have reached readers who understood how unequal the playing field remains even for the most accomplished inner city students. After reading my book, Jim and Trisha London founded South Central Scholars to provide scholarships, internships, and mentors to these students. I am extremely gratified that South Central Scholars has helped so many students attend college, develop to their full potential and achieve their dreams. “

History of the Program…

The South Central Scholars program started in 2001 with one student. The program has expanded rapidly and now includes 628 students from 44 high schools located in and around South Central LA attending the finest colleges and universities in the country.  To date, SCS has awarded nearly $3 Million* in college and graduate school scholarships.


The South Central Scholars Foundation (SCS) is a non-profit organization composed of a group of volunteers who work with highly motivated, inner city high school students from South Central LA to help them succeed in college, graduate school and life.


The program focuses on working with high school students throughout South Central LA. Our students lack the financial resources to attend college and graduate schools without assistance. Most of our students lack essential family support and the educational, cultural and social experiences necessary to ensure their success in college and in their careers. In the public high schools that our students attend, the large majority of entering freshmen do not receive a high school diploma. Our students live in the most economically-deprived, dangerous and crime-ridden area in Los Angeles. SCS attempts to provide our students with the key elements of support to help them overcome these almost insurmountable obstacles. With this assistance,

96% of our students have graduated from the finest universities in the country and many of them are moving on to graduate and/or professional schools.


High schools in or around South Central LA, including, but not limited to:

Belmont, California Academy of Math & Science (CAMS), Carson, Crenshaw, Dorsey, Downtown Magnets, Foshay Learning Center, Franklin, Fremont, Inglewood, Jefferson, Jordan, King Drew, Locke, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES), Loyola, Leuzinger, Manual Arts, Roosevelt, St. Bernard’s, St. Mary’s Academy, Verbum Dei, View Park Prep, Wallis Annenberg, Washington Prep, West Adams Prep and Westchester.


The board of SCS pays for 100% of overhead expenses associated with running the organization, including rent and executive staff. All outside donations directly fund student services, in the form of grants to students, funds for events like our annual Business Conference, and funding for our Mentorship and Outreach programs.

SCS provides a wide range of support…

SCS provides college preparation and awareness resources and activities
year-round for college-bound high school juniors and seniors coming from
disadvantaged communities throughout Los Angeles. To prepare students for
college, SCS hosts the following events: high school presentations, CollegeFair & Liberal Arts Summit, financial aid workshops, summer conference



Our scholarships are intended to close shortfalls between the amount of money offered in the financial package from a university (grants, loans, and work study) and the actual cost of a student’s college education. In some cases, these shortfalls would prevent students from attending college altogether.

All our scholarships are for each student’s entire college career. We continue financial support for students going on to graduate school and professional school.


The program links students with successful, educated adults who provide encouragement, guidance, advice and friendship. Students are partnered with mentors who have succeeded in careers in which the student has an interest. In addition to one-on-one relationships with mentors, group educational and social events are scheduled every one to two months to allow students to meet with mentors and guests in a group environment. These activities help our students to stay connected to the program.


The program provides students with unique summer job opportunities. These jobs not only supplement the income of our students but provide them with opportunities to explore fields in which they have an interest. SCS has provided students with jobs in medicine, research, law, publishing, advertising, engineering, finance, consulting, accounting and related fields. Students network with employers and volunteers, providing them with a support community during college and in their future careers. At the same time, the jobs build self esteem and provide essential income for the students. Our employers attempt to provide our students with increasing challenges and responsibilities to prepare them for their future jobs.



The members of SCS (mentors, employers, volunteers and student mentors) serve as a support community to students as they progress through and graduate from college and graduate school. Each year our graduating college students become members of the SCS community. This enlarging community is designed to keep our students involved with the program and to assist new students as they are accepted into the program. Our goal is to instill a sense of social responsibility and dedication to academic success in South Central Los Angeles.

*Scholarship commitments do not include monies provided to students for: prep classes and test fees (MCAT, LSAT, GRE, etc.), airfare and travel expenses, dental/medical expenses, school supplies, personal supplies such as winter clothing, equipment such as computers, or internship stipends.

South Central Scholars Foundation 29000 S. Western Ave., Suite 401, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275; P (310) 833-1670 F (310) 833-1677 For more information, contact Meredith Curry at

With your support, OUR GOAL is to increase the amount of our scholarships,
our college and post-graduate support, and expand our recruitment area to
serve more inner city high schools. Contact us to get involved


SCS has seen a rise in students interested in pursuing post-graduate
programs. Of undergraduate surveyed in 2011 (85% response rate), 94% of
students that submitted the survey stated an interest in applying to
graduate school. SCS provides Scholars with financial assistance in their
pursuit of a graduate education, as well as professional development
resources and support during the graduate school application process.
Additionally, the SCS has an Alumni Association dedicated to reaching back
into the community as well as supporting undergraduates. For more
information about the Alumni Association, go to


About Grandma

I have reinvented myself many times during my life -teacher, lawyer, business woman, CEO, Entrepreneur, Board member, Professor, Mom, Wife, Farmer, Chef, Musician, Author and now my best role of all - Grandma to multiple grandchildren, grandnephews and nieces worldwide.
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