Each year, Sharefest and its partners seek ways to encourage Los Angeles-area youth in their educational pursuits—challenging them to finish high school well and actively pursue their college dreams.

Yet for many, the college dream can seem daunting, particularly due to expense. But reports continue to prove that higher education is a worthwhile investment. In fact, Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree, according to the Economic Policy Institute (New York Times, “Is College Worth It,” May 27, 2014). To help ease some of the financial concerns and encourage students that a college degree is attainable, Sharefest frequently seeks ways to raise funds toward college scholarships.

In April, with the support of Council District 15, Sharefest and its partners collaborated to create the Humboldt Bus Crash Relief Fund that raised close to $40,000 for the 26 survivors impacted by the horrific crash that took the lives of 10 individuals. And on June 4, Sharefest and Councilman Joe Buscaino surprised two Banning High School students at their graduation ceremony with $5,000 each in scholarships toward college. Karen Duarte and Johnathan Gutierrez will both attend Humboldt University this fall, and are survivors of the crash. These scholarships were possible thanks to the support and generosity of Councilman Buscaino, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Phillips 66, Chadwick School in Palos Verdes, and more than 100 individual donors.

“On behalf of Sharefest and many community partners, we want to recognize you and reward you for keeping your eye on the prize in the face of adversity. Please accept this $5,000 academic scholarship and know that your community will always do whatever it takes to help you succeed,” said Councilman Buscaino as he presented the checks. (Watch the scholarship presentation.)

Several high school seniors from the Wiseburn, Redondo, Torrance and Culver City school districts were also encouraged in their college dreams thanks to Balfour Beatty Construction (BBC), who awarded a total of $4,000 in scholarships to five exemplary students. Recipients were selected for their strong academic performance, service in the community, and for demonstrating leadership, teamwork, responsibility, and integrity. These students each plan to continue to serve a impact their communities in college and beyond.

“These scholarships epitomize Sharefest’s mission of creative collaboration for positive community change,” said Chad Mayer, Sharefest executive director. “By combining our efforts, we can maximize our impact. Thanks to our generous partners and donors, the funds we raised through the BBC golf tournament and Humboldt Bus Crash Relief Fund can now help these students pursue their educational goals and one day become leaders in their communities and businesses.”