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Record Number Of Oakland Students Seek Higher-Ed Scholarships Despite COVID-19

OAKLAND (BCN) -- More students than ever applied for college and career education scholarships this year through Oakland Promise, which offers money and help to the city's young learners, according to program officials.

A record 750 students applied and a record 514 were awarded scholarships compared with 726 applicants and 398 recipients last year.

For Imahni Cheeks, the money will likely help her toward her goal of becoming a lawyer. Cheeks is a graduating senior from Oakland Technical High School and has been accepted into the University of San Francisco.

"I'm so happy to receive this scholarship since it will help me to pursue my eventual career as a lawyer," she said in a statement.

"I had the support of my family, counselors and OP College Access team to help me with FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and other financial aid applications."

Oakland Promise officials said Cheeks and others like her bucked the national trend last year by committing to furthering their education beyond high school, despite distance learning, disruptions, and adversity.

But more work needs to be done to create equity in education.

"At Oakland Promise, although we are encouraged that even in a very tough year for students where many of our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) students and first-generation college students in Oakland are accepting their scholarships and planning to attend college, there's a lot more work to do in creating educational equity," said Mia Bonta, CEO of Oakland Promise.

Bonta recently announced her decision to run for state Assembly to fill the 18th district seat her husband Rob Bonta held before he became state attorney general.

More than $2.2 million was awarded in scholarships for studies at the 2-year, 4-year, and career technical education level.

Eighty-three percent of all recipients will be the first in their families to go to college and 67 percent of all recipients are either Black or Latinx students.

Fifty students received Oakland Promise's Great Expectations scholarships, which provide from $8,000 to $16,000 for education.

© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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