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June 2016

College Stock Photo w/Keyboard

College Stock Photo w/Keyboard

$2 Million in Koret Foundation Gifts Boost First-Generation Students

$2 million in Koret Foundation Gifts Will Increase Support for Santa Clara University’s First-Generation College Students

A $2 million gift, part of the Koret University Partners Initiative, supports SCU's longstanding goal to aid students who are first in their families to attend college.

 SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 20, 2016 — The San Francisco-based Koret Foundation has awarded Santa Clara University $2 million through three gifts. More than 85 percent of these funds will support the success of first-generation college students enrolled at SCU, greatly expanding the number of students participating in the University’s successful LEAD Scholars Program and launching supplemental curricula and teaching tools to help these students excel in calculus courses and STEM careers.

“As Santa Clara moves forward with an aspirational plan to expand its facilities and transform its programs, the Koret Foundation will ensure that these resources also benefit more students from underserved families,” said Santa Clara University President Michael Engh, S.J. “This grant will improve academic support, STEM learning, and career outcomes for talented undergraduates who are the first in their families to pursue a college degree. This work is very close to my heart and essential to our mission as a Jesuit institution.”

This gift is part of the Koret University Partners Initiative, a $50 million multiyear initiative launched by the Foundation to improve student success and build long-term capacity at 12 Bay Area higher education institutions.

“The Koret Foundation is committed to supporting Bay Area universities that expand educational opportunity,” said Michael Boskin, president of the Koret Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Santa Clara University, a premier institution deeply devoted to promoting access and student success, particularly among low-income, first-generation students”

LEAD Scholars
The largest portion of the award, at $1.5 million, will help SCU serve 75 percent more students in its LEAD Scholars Program for students who are the first in their families to attend college. LEAD, which currently serves 60 first-year and 15 transfer students annually, selects students to come to campus a week early to build community; take two courses as a group that serve as their college “homeroom;” and make use of an array of support services that help students navigate academic, personal, and financial challenges.

With the Koret investment, SCU will be able to support 105 freshmen and 15 transfer LEAD students annually, and add a second-year seminar. It will also provide stipends to enable extracurricular experiences, like study abroad and unpaid summer internships, that have a significant impact but are often unaffordable for LEAD students – 75 percent of whom receive Pell Grants and other financial aid to cover the bills.

The program has helped SCU’s LEAD-participating students achieve an 82 percent four-year graduation rate, compared with a 10 percent graduation rate within six years for first-generation college students nationwide.

Another gift of $195,000 will help SCU take steps to help its first-generation college students succeed in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, starting with foundational chemistry and calculus courses. National research demonstrates that these freshman course sequences, which require well-developed quantitative skills, often serve as gateways to success in STEM majors.

The resources will fund a pilot program, the STEM Persistency and Academic Success Initiative, to create supplementary classes or techniques to help as many as 60 first-generation students master foundational STEM courses in chemistry and calculus. The program will also use analytical tools to measure which of the pedagogical changes work most effectively.

Finally, a third investment will facilitate the purchase of eight minivans to replace the aging fleet that currently transports SCU student-athletes to games and other team-related events. That $290,000 commitment will pay for eight new vans to replace the University’s current four-van fleet for Broncos sports team travel. Over time, the full fleet will enable more than 90 students at a time to be transported safely and more sustainably to off-site practices or local meets, up from the current 28. These vans should, together, provide more than a decade of service to SCU.

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry, and theology; and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

About the Koret Foundation
Based in San Francisco, the Koret Foundation supports civic, cultural, and educational organizations that promote a vibrant and distinctive Bay Area. Koret focuses its giving in two major areas: strengthening Bay Area anchor institutions and fostering Jewish connection and identity. Since its founding in 1979, Koret has invested $500 million to contribute to a higher quality of civic and Jewish community life. For more information visit

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | | 408-554-5121

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