“Having been born to immigrant parents, I have always deeply appreciated the opportunities afforded to me by living in America.”
And that’s exactly what Simon Scholars founder Ronald M. Simon wants to pass on: opportunities.
Mr. Simon’s life story is one of hard work, integrity, and unwavering perseverance. So are the stories of countless Orange County students who show leadership in the midst of adversity. The Simon Scholars program was created to support these future leaders through high school, college, and beyond.
“What we’re really hoping to do is help students find themselves, find their passions. And then eventually find a job that unites those two things,” said Andy Robles, Executive Director of Simon Scholars.
Since 2003, Simon Scholars has awarded more than 2,000 scholarships. Now, we’re recruiting our next class of Scholars! Read on to discover the benefits of becoming a Simon Scholar and how you can apply.
Lifelong Support for Your Success
Becoming a Simon Scholar is like joining a family: it’s for a lifetime. Most scholarship programs only cover your 4 years in college. But Simon Scholars begins in 10th grade and continues through college into your career.
When you’re the first person in your family bound for college, there are a lot of unknowns. A lot of confusing processes to navigate. Simon Scholars is here to support you every step of the way.
Through workshops and other after-school programs, we explore:
- the college application process
- potential career paths
- financial aid
Your college plans become even more real with:
- one-on-one college advising sessions
- local and East Coast college tours
- access to need-based scholarships
Plus, you get a brand new MacBook Air laptop for your personal use. So you have everything you need to prepare for college success.
“Simon Scholars was not just a scholarship or a laptop. It provided me with various opportunities, like flying in an airplane for the first time and visiting prestigious colleges I never thought I would get the opportunity to visit.”
– Leslie Catarino
High School Scholar, Class of 2024
Beyond preparing for college, you also develop your leadership skills at conferences. Through all of these shared experiences, you build a community of like-minded peers. You’ll be there to support, encourage, and celebrate each other on your paths to college.
The support you receive from Simon Scholars doesn’t end when you graduate high school. We’re here to guide you during one-on-one check-ins throughout your college career. And the community you build here in Orange County expands across the country as you connect with Scholars at dozens of colleges and universities.
“I got so much guidance through the entire process. I never felt lost, I never felt fearful, because I had people by my side, constantly supporting me, willing to answer all my questions. It gave me everything I needed—and everything I didn’t even know I needed.”
– Allegrah Souedain
This program also makes sure attending the college of your choice is affordable. The Simon Family Foundation provides a need-based scholarship worth up to $16,000 over 4 years. Last year, more than 400 Scholars received over $1.5 million in scholarships!
The scholarship is designed to cover the gap between your cost of attendance and your financial aid. While many scholarships only apply to tuition, you can use this funding to pay for student fees, housing, or meals too.
Career (and Beyond!)
Once you earn your college degree, you join the Simon Scholars Alumni Association. Here, you gain access to resources that will help you achieve your career goals.
“The program continues to support me now as an alum in many different ways. The greatest way it has done that recently is through connections and engagement with other alumni.
– Hector Bustos
Simon Scholar Alumni
Alumni benefits include:
- networking events
- job search guidance
- mentorship from fellow alumni
- professional development workshops
- exclusive job postings from our alumni and community partners
Alumni aren’t just part of Simon Scholars’ history—they’re part of its future too. Former Scholars go on to become leaders in our community. They follow our Founder’s example and give back, serving the next generation of Scholars.
Why Apply to Become a Simon Scholar?
There are a lot of tangible benefits to becoming a Simon Scholar. But for many Scholars, this program is so much more. It’s about opportunity, growth, confidence, resilience, community.
Hear from current Scholars and alumni what this program means to them:
How to Apply to Simon Scholars
First, let’s review the eligibility requirements. You’re eligible to become a Simon Scholar if you:
- are a 10th-grade student in Orange County, CA
- attend a partner high school or community-based organization
- have a 3.5 total GPA since starting high school
If you meet those criteria, we welcome you to apply in Fall 2024! The application process includes:
- online application
- in-person interviews
These are the 3 things you’ll need to complete your online application:
- Your unofficial transcript:
This document shows your high school grades so far.
- Your family or guardian’s tax return:
Ask for Form 1040 (or Schedule C if needed) from within the last 2 years.
- Contact information for 2-3 recommendations:
One person must come from your school.
After you submit your application, we’ll send out the recommendation forms. Your references will have one month to complete this step.
Next comes in-person interviews. We send invitations in March and schedule interviews in April and May. Our goal with the interview process is simply to learn more about you, your qualities, and your interest in becoming a Simon Scholar. Think of it as more of a natural conversation than a formal interview.
Finally, everyone’s favorite: we announce the next class of Simon Scholars in June! Once accepted into Simon Scholars, the program starts the Summer going into your junior year.
So, how do we select scholars? We look for students who:
- Aspire to be the first in their families to go to college
- Challenge themselves academically every day
- Show leadership in their schools and communities
- Have experienced personal or economic adversity
Are you ready to join a supportive community dedicated to your lifelong success? Join our interest list, and we’ll be in touch!