Clorox gift expands UC Berkeley outreach to East Bay high schools

by Jose L. Rodriguez

Berkeley -- Seven students from East Bay high schools will be able to attend the University of California at Berkeley next fall on full, four-year scholarships, thanks to a $500,000 gift from The Clorox Company Foundation of Oakland.

Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien will announce the contribution at a reception tonight in Berkeley. He will also announce gifts of $500,000 each from the Whittier Family Foundations and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund. The latter contribution is in honor of the chancellor and challenges other donors to step forward.

The gift allows UC Berkeley to replicate the Incentive Awards Program across the bay from its base in San Francisco to Berkeley High School and the six public high schools in Oakland: Castlemont, Fremont, McClymonds, Oakland, Oakland Technical, and Skyline.

"The Incentive Awards Program represents a beacon of hope to disadvantaged inner city youth in San Francisco," said Chancellor Tien. "We now look forward to lighting this beacon in Oakland and Berkeley."

The San Francisco Incentive Awards Program has been hailed as a model for providing scholarships to academically talented students who have overcome formidable socioeconomic barriers. Since 1992, the program has selected one student from each of San Francisco's 13 academic public high schools to attend UC Berkeley on full scholarships.

While only one student from each of the San Francisco high schools is selected for an Incentive Award scholarship, the program has helped motivate many other highly achieving, economically disadvantaged students. Students selected have overcome financial hardship, language barriers, dysfunctional families, and violent neighborhoods.

Each year, Incentive Award scholars return to their high schools as ambassadors for higher education, recruiting others to apply to college.

"These returning students take an important message to the inner city; a message of achievement through academics," said Tien.

"This program is a successful model because it encourages students to value academic achievement and provides them with the incentives to overcome the obstacles in their paths," said Clorox Chairman and CEO Craig Sullivan. "We're excited to help extend this wonderful program to the East Bay."

To expand the program, the university has raised $1.7 million so far from private donors. A full-fledged fundraising effort is now under way in the East Bay to reach the program's goal of $5 million.

In San Francisco, the program is close to securing its endowment goal, having raised nearly $7 million so far.

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