Building Strengths

Pursuing equitable educational opportunities for all

There is a crisis in our community: 75 percent of African-American and 70 percent of Hispanic/Latino male high school seniors in Sacramento County are not prepared for college when they graduate, according to the California Department of Education. The negative consequences of this crisis on these young men and on the future of our region is devastating.

These gender and racial disparities in access to higher education are the result of a complex knot of factors—local, state, and national—that can begin in students’ youngest years and continue throughout their schooling. However, at the Foundation, we know that through deliberate intervention, we can work with our region’s dedicated educators to help students who aspire to succeed in college achieve their educational goals. By working together, we can help students develop the skills and strategies needed to adeptly navigate their educational journeys, and we can also help educational institutions adapt their policies and practices to more effectively respond to the needs of today’s students.

Capital Area Promise Scholars at our Summer Institute

Our Capital Area Promise (CAP) Scholars program aims to give local students of all backgrounds the opportunity to attain and complete college, and a pilot component of the program tackles the issue of raising college completion rates for young men of color, in particular. 

Learn more about the CAP Scholars program

To date, the Foundation has awarded 350 scholarships of $2,500 to local students through the CAP Scholars program, 60 percent of whom attend college in the California State University System. In 2018, 57 percent of the students who received the scholarships were young men of color, with reflects a 23 percent increase from the prior year. 

In addition to the scholarships we award through the CAP Scholars program, we partner with area nonprofits to provide comprehensive college-readiness programming to support students’ success. Each year, one of those partners, Youth Development Network, brings a strengths-based focus to our Summer Institute, an annual gathering of Scholars. Here’s why:

By Adrian Ruiz, Executive Director and Heidi Elneil, Youth Development Specialist/Trainer, Youth Development Network

At Youth Development Network, we hear stories like this all the time: young people from under-resourced communities in our region have been told in any number of ways that they are not good enough—for success in college, in professional pursuits, in healthy relationships, and so on—and they believe it.
The Youth Development Network approach is different. Because we focus on strengths, the young people we work with learn more about themselves, how they work best, and how they can be successful. Centering students’ strengths in a school setting, for example, provides a positive lens for young people to work together as a team in their learning, which can result in more successful academic achievement. Encouraging young people to appreciate the roles in which they and their peers thrive allows each person to reach their greatest potential, together, because they learn about each other and work more effectively. 

By understanding their talents and those of their peers, the young people we work with are empowered to grow as individuals and as members of a healthy, supportive community. They are empowered to apply their talents to academic success, relationship building, community involvement, and job readiness, and they are empowered to become confident, life-long leaders instilled with a greater sense of purpose.

Read Adrian and Heidi's complete essay


In September 2018, the Foundation was awarded a second grant of $1.1 million from College Futures Foundation to continue fostering the CAP Scholars program’s early successes. We invite you to learn more about the program, the Strategic Initiative that makes it possible, Preparing Students to Succeed in the New Economy, and how you can support our ongoing work.

Be Part of the Solution

Only through strategic, collaborative efforts can we improve higher education outcomes for all in our community. Join us with a donation to the Building Equitable Communities Fund.

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