Community Foundation Sonoma County Donors Joe and Judy Gappa created the Yes, We Can! Scholarship to help local, low-income students fund their college expenses. These are four-year scholarships to Sonoma State University to shepherd students from their freshmen year through graduation.
“Many of the students with great academic potential do not have the opportunity to take advantage of it, “say the Gappas, “Their loss is the community’s loss.” The scholarships supplement existing federal and state resources, thus relieving students of excessive loan burdens or long hours of work, which jeopardizes academic performance and retention.
David and Ruth Wolf met the Gappas at a Community Foundation gathering and discovered their similar passion. Both couples could think of no better way to ensure a bright future for our region than to help its youth earn university degrees. “The Gappas showed the way with a simple idea that was very appealing to us.”
The Wolfs joined the Yes! We Can project and took a slightly different approach for finding applicants. Rather than going through the Sonoma State scholarship process, the recipients of the Wolfs awards came through the Roseland School District, with the guidelines and process designed by the Superintendent of that school district and the principal of Roseland University Prep.
“Ruth and I had the good fortune to attend the UC in the ‘60s and have benefitted in extraordinary ways, ways that we never could have imagined,” says David. With the gap between the “haves and have-nots” going in the wrong direction, a college degree is more important than ever for a person’s ability to earn a good living.
The plan is to find other donors who will become part of the four-year cycle, so that when the Gappas’ students finish their four years, two new recipients will be chosen; the Wolf’s will do the same the following year and so on, creating on ongoing stream of Yes! We Can graduates and, quite possibly, community leaders.