SMC foundation fundraises LGBT scholarship

In memory of Santa Monica College alumnus Monica Serratos, a $10,000 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender scholarship, the first of its kind at SMC, is being fundraised for eligible students. “She fought for gay rights,” said SMC counselor Jeff Gordon. “She cared about students of all populations and backgrounds.” According to Gordon, Serratos was the kind of person who “left long, lasting impressions on people.”

Serratos died last year after succumbing to cancer. She attended SMC in the ’90s and was AS Director of Publicity. According to former AS president Luis Barrera, she worked to have student clubs funded and was an advocate for youth rights.

Barrera and Gordon wish to honor Serratos’ leadership, honesty, and support for gay rights by raising a scholarship fund for LGBT students through the non-profit fundraising group, The Great SMC Bowl-a-thon. Gordon hopes the scholarship will commemorate her legacy for “caring and selfless humanistic work.”

The criteria of the scholarship have yet to be finalized, but some requirements are to be expected. According to Gordon, eligible SMC students will need to be in good academic standing with a minimum 2.5 GPA, be continuing students, and be active in the college community.

“The student should be someone who embodies the spirit of the person it’s named after,” Gordon said. “It’s not just about academics.”

Funding for the $10,000 scholarship will be acquired through private donations made to The Great SMC Bowl-a-thon website. The raised funds will be attributed to the SMC Foundation, a platform through which private donations are made for the benefit of the SMC community. “A $10,000 endowment would give $500 in perpetuity,” said Charles A. Potts, Jr., Associate Director /CFO and Interim Exec. Director of SMC Foundation.

According to Potts, SMC receives government subsidy, but not the SMC Foundation. Scholarship funding comes from private gifts given by corporations and members of the community who wish to contribute to the success of higher public education.

“The Foundation receives private gifts ranging from $1-1.5 million every year,” Potts said. “This year, we’re close to half a million in scholarship money, which is a bit better than last year’s amount.”

SMC currently offers about 350 to 400 scholarships with a perpetuity range of $250 to $2,000, according to Potts. In addition to giving students grants, the SMC Foundation gives faculty members “mini-grants” to help fund needs for class equipment, among others. The grants offered to faculty members are called “Margins of Excellence.”

Potts stated that “Margins of Excellence” provide for “equipment and programming, which supports and enhances both the teaching and learning experience with a direct impact and involvement with students.”

SMC Bowl-a-Thon will be organizing a bowling competition on March 24 for the purpose of raising funds for scholarships such as the Monica Serratos LGBT Scholarship. One hundred and ninety dollars has been raised as of last Monday. Gordon hopes to receive around $3,000 in donations on the day of the Bowl-a-Thon event. The foundation aims to raise $10,000 by next November to make the scholarship available to eligible students by 2013.