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Dear Friends,

We are excited to share our progress since founding Mission Scholars in January 2019. Over the past 9 months we have focused on developing our program, raising funds, forging local partnerships, and assembling a group of Santa Barbara’s brightest students determined to be the first in their families to attend college.

In June, the Santa Barbara Unified School Board granted Mission Scholars unanimous approval to collaborate with the District and work directly with its many high-achieving, low-income students. Partnerships like this one have been instrumental in our ability to recruit students and to collaborate with teachers and counselors.


Our pilot program is well underway as we are wrapping up a jam-packed summer with a group of amazing students.

  • For the 2019-20 school year, Mission Scholars will guide a group of high-performing, low-income seniors through the college application process.
  • Intensive SAT prep, college admissions workshops, and individual student meetings, are underway and will continue throughout the fall.
  • In July, when we toured the Claremont Colleges and Loyola Marymount University, we also made personal introductions to Admissions Officers responsible for evaluating their applications.
  • In August, we launched our parent and family bilingual educational workshop series to inform and empower parents in the college application process, information which may extend to younger siblings and family members.
  • Currently, we are in the thick of college essay writing and draft reviews, a powerful opportunity for Scholars to share their unique personal stories: what has shaped them, and what matters most.
  • This fall, Scholars and their families will participate in the Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation’s financial aid group workshops and will receive individual guidance.
  • Once applications are submitted, we begin a mock interview program where students work with local college alumni to prepare for official college interviews.
  • In the spring, Scholars will take part in a college study-skills workshop to ensure academic success during freshman year. Our program emphasizes college success along with college admission. Once our Scholars enroll in college, we provide ongoing support to ensure retention.

Last year, only 10% of low-income Santa Barbara Unified School District graduates went on to enroll in four-year institutions.

In response to this news, read our Executive Director’s article in The Independent here. Santa Barbara supports a myriad of resources for low-income families, but this dismal statistic highlights a striking, ongoing inequity in college admissions guidance for high-achieving students without financial means. Mission Scholars is a direct attempt to address this inequity. We search for the most deserving, most motivated of these students and provide the necessary resources to ensure access to and affordability at the best possible colleges.

Please feel free to be in touch if you are interested in volunteering, have fundraising ideas, or would like to be involved.

We are so grateful for your encouragement and support, and we look forward to sharing our journey with you!

Thank you,

The Mission Scholars Team

Cassie Lancaster, Katie Kinsella, and Kim Phillips