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Sonoma County Students Benefit from Generous Grants to 10,000 Degrees

With $234,000 in grant awards from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, Kaiser Permanente, Impact 100 Sonoma, Redwood Credit Union, and Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, 10,000 Degrees will help hundreds more Sonoma County students from low-income families get into and through college.

“We are grateful for these funds to expand our work in Sonoma County, but more importantly, this is an expression of the community’s belief that all children can succeed and should have equitable opportunities to do so,” says Kim Mazzuca. “Almost all our students are the first in their families to go to college, but they are by no means the last. They begin to change the expectations of everyone around them to believe that college is possible and that they can go.”

On June 16, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted to supplement an earlier approved grant of $100,000 with an additional $50,000.

“I’m happy to report that the Board of Supervisors showed their support for low income students entering college by designating $150,000 to support the scholarship and college preparation program of 10,000 Degrees Institute,” remarked Supervisor Efren Carrillo, a member of the Economic Development Ad Hoc Committee of the Board.

“This investment in our young people is a reflection of the Board’s commitment to their futures and to a vibrant, educated workforce for Sonoma County. Statistics prove that college success is inextricably linked to higher lifetime income, health, and life expectancy – as well as to greater civic engagement and community involvement,” said Carrillo. This grant brings the total commitment from the Board to $350,000 since 2013.

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend awarded $25,000 to the program.

“10,000 Degrees is making a difference in our community by providing an underserved community of students a pathway to success,” said Carolyn Stark, Executive Director of Sonoma County Vintners and co-director with Maureen Cottingham of the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend.

Maureen Cottingham added, “10,000 Degrees has a proven system that helps students achieve higher education. We are proud to be supporting this program that invests in the future of Sonoma County.”

Kaiser Permanente demonstrated its commitment to improving lives in its communities with a $24,000 grant to 10,000 Degrees.

“We are pleased to support 10,000 Degrees with this grant. Helping to provide educational opportunities for underserved youth is one of our important community commitments,” said Judy Coffey, Senior Vice President and Area Manager, Kaiser Permanente Marin-Sonoma.

Last month, Impact100Sonoma announced that 10,000 Degrees was awarded a $20,000 Impact finalist grant to help fund the 10,000 Degrees Institute at two Sonoma Valley High Schools. This year’s membership of 263 women awarded a total of $263,000 to non-profit organizations serving the communities of Sonoma Valley.

“We admire the commitment of 10,000 Degrees to help students from Sonoma Valley’s low-income families realize their dream of achieving a college degree. Their work changes lives and makes our community even stronger. Impact100Sonoma members are proud to support and help sustain their efforts in Sonoma Valley,” says Grace Meeks, Impact Grant Chair for Impact100Sonoma.

Redwood Credit Union made a $15,000 grant to 10,000 Degrees, because according to Cynthia Negri, RCU’s Executive Vice President & COO, “Partnering with 10,000 Degrees naturally aligns with one of Redwood Credit Union’s core philosophies: providing and supporting educational opportunities to help people in our communities succeed. By assisting local students throughout their pursuit of higher education, 10,000 Degrees helps strengthen our communities as well as contributes to a stronger local economy.”

“Deepening and expanding the 10,000 Degrees reach in Sonoma County is critical to our goal of creating more college graduates from traditionally underserved families. We’ve seen that each student who is empowered lifts up others in their families, high schools, and communities,” says Lisa Carreno, Regional Director for 10,000 Degrees in Sonoma County.

Currently 10,000 Degrees is actively partnering with Casa Grande High, Elsie Allen, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Piner, and Sonoma Valley High Schools and with Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University to meet with students on their campuses as part of their comprehensive program called the 10,000 Degrees Institute.

10,000 Degrees advisors provide Institute students with college and financial aid counseling, application assistance, and individualized support as well as workshops and college tours that are also open to other area students and parents. Advisors follow 10,000 Degrees students through college with counseling and advising until graduation.

As a result, 84% of 10,000 Degrees students graduate from four-year colleges (in up to six years) compared to 54% of all college students nationally.

Thanks to substantial multiyear investments made by the Sonoma County Office of Education ($125,000 over 5 years) and the Department of Health Services ($75,000 over three years) and other institutional and individual donors, 10,000 Degrees has substantially increased students served in Sonoma County—from 15 Institute students in two high schools to 120 in six high school and from 91 college students to 340 this year.

10,000 Degrees hopes to double the number of students served over the next two years by engaging other public, private and corporate investors and bringing new high schools into partnership.