West Hills College Lemoore launches HOPE Initiative thanks to millions from MacKenzie Scott

LEMOORE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Philanthropist, billionaire and one of Amazon's first employees, MacKenzie Scott is making an impact here in the South Valley. Her foundation donated millions to West Hills College in Lemoore.

West Hills was one of the 200-plus colleges selected for the donation in June 2021, because of their support for underserved communities.

"It is wonderful, it is empowering, we were already doing great work here in Lemoore, so this just affirms that what we were doing was on the right track, and we can just expand and build on that and do some great things for the valley." says Zara Sims, Director of HOPE Initiative.

With the help of this funding, the HOPE Initiative was established. HOPE Stands for "Having Opportunity and Purpose through Education."

The program has three focuses -- outreach for middle and high school students who want to go to college, support for current students and community outreach for adults wanting to return to school.

Sims says, "All three of these initiative are meant to serve under-represented groups, such as our Black community, our native community, our Hispanic community, especially Hispanic males, LGBTQ and foster and homeless youth."

The HOPE Initiative, and other programs like it, have helped students, especially during distance learning.

One student athlete at West Hills College, DyAndre Morehead says, "It has made me more open. I was kind of reserved, closed off. I was really only focused on basketball, getting out of school but now that I have something to look forward to, coming to school for it has made me more open."

DyAndre is a freshman and is taking classes fully online but with programs like HOPE and Umoja, he is able to connect with his peers in person.

"I have never taken an online class somewhere else and am able to still be in a club and still be in a sport, so it is different." says DyAndre.

The future of HOPE is bright -- the funding has been endowed, and will be available as long as the initiative keeps impacting the community.

Sims says, "We are in the process of developing maybe some grants internally for various clubs and organizations here on campus,"

Funding such as the Spark grant are already available to campus clubs. If you have questions about HOPE Initiative you can contact Zara Sims at: zarasims@whccd.edu For details on the MacKenzie Scott donation visit here.
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