$25,000 available in scholarships through Central Valley Scholars

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Michael Piña is a Kerman native and the President and CEO of Central Valley Scholars.

The non-profit provides scholarships for the LGBTQIA+ and minority communities in the Central Valley.

Piña mentions, "There are so many students here that are so smart, so diligent, so worthy, they just don't have the appropriate resources and tools to get to where they need to go."

Piña was 19 years old and still attending UC Berkeley when she launched the non-profit in 2019. Since then, it has doubled in size.

"We started with $3,000 -- thankfully, we were able to give $5,000 that year. Last year, we gave away $12,000 and this year, we are able to give $25,000," Piña shares.

Grants range from $1,500 to $4,000 and can be used towards a traditional college or trade school.

Central Valley Scholars Application deadlines fall during the first week of June.

Seveteen recipients will be selected this year, and grade point average is not a factor.

"We believe potential lies not in what your GPA says, not in what a recommender or teacher says. It lies in you, your willingness to advance yourself and advance your future," says Piña.

Successful candidates are those who not only meet the identity requirements but are also vulnerable and empowering in their personal statements.

J Peña received one of the scholarships in 2021. He graduated from Kerman High School and went on to attend U.C. Santa Barbara.

"It has so much value besides the monetary to know our community really has our back and there are people that are looking out for us," shares Peña.

Central Valley Scholars is also able to employ full-time and part-time employees thanks to a $200,000 national grant from New Profit.

It offers support programs such as 'Themtorship' throughout the year.

"We are that counselor, we are that one-on-one support for that student. We give them a lot of love, a lot of encouragement, a lot of power to really make their academic dreams a reality," explains Piña.

A link to available scholarships can be found here.

Themtorship program applications are due by June 5th and can be found here.
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