The mission of SCS Noonan Scholars is to help high-achieving low-income underrepresented students get into and graduate from top colleges equipped to achieve their full career potential.
South Central Scholars (SCS) was established in 2001 by philanthropists James and Patricia London, originally as a scholarship program serving a few high-achieving low-income students in the Los Angeles area. Quickly realizing the demand for a multi-stage, integrated program of support, SCS soon began supporting these students throughout college with scholarships, academic intervention, academic and social-emotional support, and career guidance and networking. Within a few years, SCS was yielding impressive results: 90% of Scholars who were attending very selective schools like Harvard, Brown, Williams, USC, etc. were graduating within 6 years.
Although our Scholars were graduating at rates far beyond the national average, we found a large percentage of our Scholars were transitioning out of their intended majors and were unable to find jobs that matched their passions after graduation. After reviewing their college transcripts it became clear to us that, despite having excelled in high school, many of our Scholars were entering college without the college-level writing, math, and science skills needed to persist in their chosen majors.
To reverse this trend, we launched our pilot session of Summer Academy in 2012 and began recruiting high school juniors and seniors to participate. After these new programmatic innovations, our results were overwhelming: More than 80% of our Scholars were attending top colleges, compared to less than 50% of their peers, and over 70% of Scholars pursuing STEM majors were able to persist and graduate in their major, compared to 25% of similar students.
In 2014, our founders decided to replicate their program in Boston, under the name Noonan Scholars, as a pilot for further regional, and eventual national, expansion. After three years of successful outcomes in Boston, we are now ready to go national, under the SCS Noonan Scholars flag, as one fully merged organization. We will support the top low-income students of color across the country with the same refined model of service that has come to define our success in L.A. and Boston. Within the year, we will move our East Coast Summer Academy to Amherst College and will aim to substantially increase the number of Scholars we admit into our program annually.