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About LEAD

Mission Statement

First-generation college students deserve an equitable college experience.  The LEAD Scholars Program builds relationships based on trust and respect by fostering a safe and welcoming space for our students.  Through academic courses, advising, social events, vocational exploration, networking, community outreach, funding, leadership opportunities, and alumni engagement, the LEAD Scholars Program supports student success in college and beyond.

LEAD Podcast

Podcast Spring 2018

Check out our LEAD podcast where LEAD Scholars speak on their experiences at Santa Clara University and with the program!



The LEAD Scholars Program was established in 2003 as a component of a university-wide grant initiative to build a more inclusive community. Supported by the James Irvine Foundation, we sought ways to enhance our support of underrepresented students including first generation college students and students of color. The success of the LEAD Program in supporting and engaging students and their families was immediately evident. A major component of this program was the Bridge Program which brought students on campus early to introduce them to the academic and campus life of Santa Clara University.

The program was funded by the James Irvine Foundation until 2007 and since then, it has been funded by the Office of the Provost. Now, established within the institutional structure of the university, the LEAD Program is known as the LEAD Scholars Program, and the Bridge Program is called LEAD Week.

The program is constantly working to improve the resources available to the students. Over the past ten years we have increased the number of LEAD Week participants from 30 to 60, and in 2012 we added a transfer student component that includes an additional 15 students. Further expansion is being funded by an exciting grant from the Koret Foundation that will enable us to grow the number of students we serve as well as the programming that we offer to second, third and fourth year students.


A Generous Gift from the Koret Foundation

A generous $1.5 million grant from the Koret Foundation awarded in spring 2016 will enable the LEAD Scholars Program to: 

  • Increase the number of first-year LEAD Scholars from 60 to 105 incrementally over 3 years beginning in 2017-2018
  • Create year-round peer and alumni mentoring programs
  • Establish a Koret Fellows program to financially support high impact co-curricular opportunities, including undergraduate research, unpaid internships, community-based learning, study abroad, and summer school courses
  • Provide a special assistance fund to support students with emergency and basic living expenses
  • Offer seminar courses that focus on vocation and career development
  • Hire 1.5 additional professional staff including an Assistant Director and administrative support
  • Collaborate with the College of Arts and Sciences to provide STEM retention programming 

To learn more about the Koret Foundation's gift, please read the press release