Photo: Reinvent Stockton’s Executive Director Nikolas Howard (left) speaks as reinvent Stockton and Stockton Scholars announce the start of the new scholarship season during an event at Delta College. (Vivienne Aguilar/Controbutor)

Families of high school seniors in Stockton might be just as confused about higher education as the students themselves, but local nonprofits aims to clarify the process.

On Thursday night, Stockton Scholars and Reinvent Stockton announced their new scholarship season at Delta College at a private event held in Danner Hall. The nonprofits announced findings from their first-ever study conducted by Sacramento State University researchers on the Stockton Scholars program. 

Since the start of the program, 4,650 high school students in the city have won scholarships, Reinvent Stockton’s Executive Director Nikolas Howard told Stocktonia. He said eventually the program would like to support 2,000 students in one season.

“A big part of our mission is not just that you get access to higher ed, but that you either stay in or come back to Stockton and contribute to the transformation of your community,” Howard said. “That’s what our (scholars) told us. They want it. We weren’t trying to force them to be in Stockton. They want to contribute in that way,”

The theme for the 2023 scholarship is “Built for The Future – Brick, By Brick”, according to the press release. Howard said the name is in reference to “Brick City”, a common nickname given to Stockton. The creators wanted to connect to the city’s history.

Scholarships are awarded to eligible high school seniors attending public schools in Stockton, according to the Stockton Scholars website. Students accepted into four-year universities are given $4,000 over four years. Community college students are given $1,000 over two years.

Vivian Delgado, 19, is a current Stockton Scholar attending San Joaquin Delta College. The scholarship gives her $500 a year for two years as she goes to Delta. Delgado is studying childhood development and has plans to transfer to a university and earn a bachelor’s degree. 

“Most of my money went to textbooks and of course gas, so I did think ($500 a year) was the right amount, especially for community college students,” Delgado said.

Dr. Nancy Huante conducted part of the Community Cultural Wealth Perspective of the Stockton Scholars study. Huante is an assistant professor in the Department of Ethinic Studies at Sacramento State, she was one of three researchers on the project. 

According to the Sacramento State website, the team conducted “a research study about the aspirations, plans, and goals among high school recent graduates who attended a public high school in one of the following districts/areas: Stockton, Lincoln, Lodi, or Manteca Unified, or San Joaquin County.”

Thursday night’s event highlighted the main takeaways from their research. Huante said Stocktonia 300 students were interviewed for the project.

“One of the first things that we took away was definitely the impact of the program on the students and their families. And not just in terms of financial support, but really beyond that, like making sure that students were connected to information that they needed to access on campus programs at the college level,” Huante said. 

Huante said research found the program successfully involves parents, guardians and families of the Stockton Scholars. The families are given resources for financial aid applications, surviving and navigating college and more access to information about the college processes once their children graduated high school.

The project is set for 10 years, Huante said, but she learned through her interviews with students that they hope the research continues past its deadline.

“Eligibility is almost one to one. We try to get as many of the kids in as possible, and we work with them to make them eligible. And that’s why we have the window open so long,” Howard said.Applications for the Stockton Scholars Class of 2023 are now open until March 2. A list of eligibility requirements and family resources can be found on the Stockton Scholars website.

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