In 2002, Ronald Simon and his children formed a family foundation and established the Simon Scholars Program. A child of immigrants, Ron had achieved the American dream through his hard work in building a successful manufacturing company. Wanting to give back to the community, the Simon family decided their mission was to assist students with difficult life and economic circumstances.
As the Simon Scholars Program evolved, Ron’s daughter, Dr. Kathy Simon Abels, realized that financial aid alone was not sufficient to address the challenges faced by the Scholars. In 2005, Dr. Abels, using her background as a Clinical Psychologist, began conceptualizing and implementing a new approach for the Simon Scholars Program.
The Foundation moved to a cohort model in order to provide built-in communities and a sense of extended family amongst the Scholars. In addition, the Simon Scholars Program built an intensive college access and leadership development program in order to prepare the Scholars academically, socially, and emotionally to succeed in college and beyond.
At this time, the Foundation selects more than 120 new Simon Scholars each academic year. Currently, 230 Scholars participate in the High School Program, and over 450 in the College Program. Simon Scholars attend prestigious colleges throughout the country. To date, the Foundation has provided over $45 million in financial aid to our Scholars.
Dr. Kathy Simon Abels, Ph.D.
Born and raised in Southern California, Dr. Abels graduated summa cum laude from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University’s California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) in Los Angeles, and served clients in her private practice for nearly two decades while raising her three children.
Utilizing her background in Psychology, Dr. Abels evolved the Simon Scholars Program into what it is today: an intensive, college-prep support initiative that aims to help high school students overcome adversity and develop into college-educated leaders who are actively engaged in their communities.
Dr. Abels has been honored by the NAACP for her contribution to the Atlanta, Georgia community. In addition, the Simon Scholars Program was recognized by the National Scholarship Providers Association as the “Independent Scholarship Provider of the Year”.