The mayor of Stockton, California, Michael Tubbs, has announced a $20 million gift from an anonymous donor through the California Community Foundation to launch a $100 million initiative aimed at helping the city's youth afford higher education.
The Stockton Scholars program will offer students from the Stockton Unified School District scholarships of $1,000 a year to attend four-year colleges and universities and $500 a year for two-year colleges or trade schools. That level of support would effectively make any California State University school tuition-free for the majority of Stockton students. Beginning with the class of 2019, seniors who have graduated from a comprehensive, district charter, or independent charter school in the district will be able to apply to the program. To be eligible, students need to have lived in the city of Stockton for at least four years, earned a GPA of at least 2.0, completed their FAFSA application for federal financial aid, and applied for at least two other scholarships or grants. The initiative aims to raise a total of $100 million over the next five years to expand the program city-wide and ensure that the cost of tuition and fees does not prevent students in the city from pursuing higher education.
Tubbs, a Stockton native who in 2017 became the city's first African-American mayor and, at 26, the youngest mayor of a city with a population of more than a hundred thousand, faced his own difficulties in paying for college only a decade ago. Born to an incarcerated father and a teenage mother, and himself a first-generation college student, he graduated with both a master's and a bachelor's with honors from Stanford University in 2012.
"Stockton Scholars is a game changer that will reshape the trajectory of our city for decades to come," said Tubbs. "Today, I am challenging this city to raise a total of $100 million so that we can help cover the cost of college for all of our students. The tallest building in Stockton is also our newest — a courthouse, which cost $300 million to build. Surely, we can raise just one-third that amount to drive our youth towards a better future."