Newport Beach-based Simon Foundation for Education and Housing, the nonprofit organization that supports the Simon Scholars Program, has announced the inaugural chapter of the Simon Scholars Leadership Association (SSLA).
This prestigious group will guide Simon Scholars in Orange County, preparing them to become future leaders. The community leaders were selected based on their passion for America’s free enterprise system, principles of integrity, hard work, perseverance, and commitment to serving others.
Simon Scholars is a unique six-year scholarship program that begins at the end of a student’s sophomore year in high school and continues through the completion of college. It is designed to help students facing difficult life and economic circumstances to excel academically and socially.
Scholars are given the tools necessary to successfully complete a four-year college degree, pursue meaningful careers, and achieve the American Dream of self-sufficiency and independence.
“Leaders learn from leaders,” said Ronald M. Simon, founder of the Simon Foundations. “The inaugural SSLA chapter is comprised of distinguished, positive role models united by their passion for supporting the education and development of underserved youth. Their willingness to guide Simon Scholars, America’s future leaders, represents a monumental milestone for the Simon Scholars Program.”
The Simon Scholars Leadership Association is made up of more than 30 prominent and influential Orange County community leaders with portfolios encompassing an extensive diversity of industries and interests. All represent American success stories, and each tells the tale of a committed, hardworking professional that has overcome adversity to reach extraordinary levels of success.
These leaders bring a new dimension to the prestigious Simon Scholars Program. They will guide the Scholars in learning principles associated with discipline, decision-making and character building by sharing their own experiences and inspirational life lessons through small group engagements, break-out sessions, and Scholar-driven Q&A’s. Each member has committed to attend regular annual activities including roundtable luncheons, banquets, and networking events.
Additionally, the establishment of the Leadership Association is expected to create internship and career opportunities, an important factor of success along the Scholar’s journey.
“Our Scholars now have direct access to proven leaders they can turn to for practical guidance and real-life advice,” said Ben Drutman, executive director, Simon Scholars Program. “These mentors exemplify the tenacity required to overcome adversity, a common denominator shared by SSLA members and Simon Scholars.”
The Simon Scholars Program begins in a student’s junior year of high school with each student awarded a computer, mentoring, college-level resources, and other preparatory tools. Eight to 10 Simon Scholars are selected annually at each partner high school. With cohorts of 16 – 20 scholars at each partner high school, this enables students to receive the emotional and social support necessary to excel.
After high school, Scholars are awarded $16,000 toward their tuition to attend an accredited four-year U.S. college or university bringing the total value of the scholarship to over $35,000 per student. The Program’s goal is to work with its vast network of collegiate partners to obtain tuition-free education for all Simon Scholars. To date, the program has sponsored more than 1,500 students, investing more than $60 million in financial aid and support.
Affiliated with nearly 200 college and universities nationwide, Simon Scholars far outpace their counterparts, both in attending and graduating from college. More than 95 percent of Simon Scholars attend a four-year university or college and over 90 percent boast a college graduation rate.
For more information on the Simon Scholars Program, visit www.simonscholars.org.