Hundreds of additional scholarships available through Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges

Surge in donations has led to more than 660 grants for students annually

March 28, 2023 at 12:36 PM

Cuyamaca College student Desiree Krupinkin sitting in front of the new Together We Rise Center.
Cuyamaca College student Desiree Krupinkin sitting in front of the new Together We Rise Center.

EL CAJONStudents at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges have a much better chance of receiving an academic scholarship to study at the East County campuses, thanks to a spike in donations raised by the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges, a nonprofit that supports the colleges.

The Foundation has awarded more than 660 scholarships to students this academic year, valued at more than $433,000. This is more than triple the number given out just three years ago, when a total of $171,350 in scholarships were awarded. The increase is based on a surge in gifts in support of community college students. Over the past five years, the Foundation has been building a scholarship endowment, called Promise Plus, and proceeds are now being distributed to students. Donors are also opening their wallets to help cover the cost of books and supplies, and other basic needs.

The next round of scholarships, for fall 2023, opened March 27. Students can apply through May 12 for the more than 350 scholarships available. Students must be enrolled at Grossmont or Cuyamaca College to be eligible for a scholarship, which typically ranges in value from $500 to $1,000.

With more than 2,000 students applying and demonstrating financial need, the Foundation continues to work to expand its reach through scholarships. The Promise Plus endowment is 75% of the way to its $4 million goal, and the Foundation continues to seek donations.

 “Receiving a scholarship may very well make the difference between staying in school or leaving,” said Sally Cox, chief executive officer of the Foundation. “It might mean that a student can now pay for books, or childcare. These scholarships are truly changing lives.”

Grossmont College student ShannaRai Diaz had a hard time affording textbooks before receiving a $1,000 scholarship through the Foundation. Diaz, who once struggled with addiction and was incarcerated, is now an honors student and President’s List awardee. She was one of 10 exceptional Grossmont students to receive Barona Band of Mission Indian Scholarships through the Foundation. She is on track to earn two associate degrees this June.

“My college experience has been amazing, and you are part of the reason I am here,” Diaz wrote in a note to the donor who made the scholarship possible. “Thank you for your contribution that is helping me to get one step closer to my future success.”

Cuyamaca College student Desiree Krupenkin said she couldn’t believe at first that she had received a $500 Tommy Hill Scholarship this spring.

“I thought of all the ways those funds could help me cover the semester and I was really grateful,” she said.

Krupenkin, who dreams of becoming a high school teacher, said she is using the funds to help cover the cost of gas to get to and from school, and to buy meals while on campus.

Another factor in the soaring numbers of scholarships awarded: the application process is a lot easier than it used to be. Foundation staff created one common application that allows students to apply to all available scholarships at once. Students are then matched to qualifying scholarships. A diverse group of volunteers read the applications, including professors, alumni, and other members of the community. Workshops are available this spring to help guide students through the process.

Knowing that not every student qualifies for financial aid, the Foundation strives to provide students access to financial support. The Promise Program is also available to full-time college students who are California residents (or AB540 eligible) and offers free tuition and mandatory fees.

Without the support of the Foundation’s loyal donors, Cox emphasized that none of these scholarships would be possible.

“Our donors have accomplished something extraordinary: making higher education accessible for hundreds of students,” said Cox. “The scholarships are allowing students to come to us from all different points in their lives, from high school, adult school, and the workforce. With the support of the community and our excellent faculty, these students are succeeding.” 

 For Foundation donor Tom Courtney, establishing scholarships in memory of family members who have passed away has helped ease the pain of loss.

Courtney and his wife created a scholarship through the Foundation in 2018 after losing their son James Courtney, a Cuyamaca College graduate. So far, a dozen students have benefitted.

“We needed to do something and we started a scholarship in James’ name,” said Courtney.

Courtney added his late wife’s name to the memorial scholarship after she died in 2020.

“It helps to know we are now supporting three students per year at Cuyamaca College,” he said.

To learn more about the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges’ scholarships, visit To donate, visit


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