San Manuel Band of Mission Indians makes hope happen with grant supporting scholarships for 33 San Bernardino students

San Manuel Band of Mission Indians makes hope happen with grant supporting scholarships for 33 San Bernardino students

SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA - Students in San Bernardino come from some of the nation’s most financially challenged households. Even when they are well prepared academically, many will not go to college because the cost of tuition and books keeps attendance just out of their reach. Thanks to a generous grant from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Making Hope Happen Foundation will double the number of students whose college dreams will fund this year.


“Students’ zip codes should not determine their success in life,” said Dr. Dale Marsden, Superintendent of San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD). “San Manuel’s generosity removes critical barriers for our students, who have what it takes to succeed in college, but lack the financial resources they need to get in the door.”

The $100,000 grant from San Manuel supports the Making Hope Happen Foundation in its ambitious quest to ensure every graduate of the San Bernardino City Unified School District has access to a college education. Making Hope Happen scholarships cover the estimated cost of tuition and books for two years of full-time coursework at a California Community College.

“We believe every student who has prepared for college should be able to attend,” said San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena. “Education is the pathway to success and by providing scholarships to qualified students the Tribe is helping to produce an educated workforce in the region.”    

More often than not, students from San Bernardino who go on to pursue a higher education degree will be the first in their family to set foot on a college campus. Aside from the money to pay for tuition, these students lack the social supports of their more affluent peers. In designing its scholarship program, the Making Hope Happen Foundation addressed the need for additional guidance by connecting each recipient with a college-informed mentor.

“We know kids from our community will succeed if they are given a fighting chance,” said Dr. Samuel Gibbs, President of the Making Hope Happen Foundation. “Our job is to ensure they get that chance.”

Making Hope Happen Foundation mentors will help scholarship recipients navigate the college environment, stay motivated in their studies, and find academic support when it’s needed, similar to the way an older brother or sister might shepherd a sibling through the experience.  This added layer of support promises to help each scholarship recipient stay focused on and complete his or her higher-education goal.

The Making Hope Happen Foundation launched its scholarship program in 2016 by providing support for 26 students to attend college. Its goal for 2017 is to support 100 SBCUSD graduates. The grant from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians puts that goal well within reach and may allow the Foundation’s philanthropic leaders to serve even more students this year.

“Generous donors and grant makers are recognizing our work. They make hope happen in SBCUSD schools and the lives of our students,” said Gibbs. “San Manuel Band of Mission Indians just delivered a big dose of life-changing, prosperity-building hope for our community.  We are humbled, grateful and energized by the faith they have placed in our scholarship program.”

The Making Hope Happen Foundation brings strategically applied philanthropic support to the mission of the San Bernardino City Unified School District.  Its programs focus on creating successful, life-long learners from cradle to career. With its donors and partners, the Making Hope Happen Foundation prepares future students by teaching parents how to maximize the brain development of infants and toddlers, inspire engagement among current students by investing in innovative ideas that make school more relevant, and awards mentor-supported scholarships to help SBCUSD graduates achieve professional success.

For more information about the Making Hope Happen Foundation, about its three priority programs, or to support its work with a tax-deductible charitable contribution, visit www.makinghope.org and watch the FNX First Nations Experience video on vimeo at https://vimeo.com/196623744/a7256e9b9e.