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Cur­rent Schol­ar­ship and Awards Programs

The Alpha Asso­ci­a­tion annu­ally spon­sors a schol­ar­ship pro­gram that includes both International Scholarships, awarded to deserv­ing for­eign stu­dents cur­rently engaged in grad­u­ate study in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, and Graduate Study Awards, given to a recently ini­ti­ated mem­ber of each South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Phi Beta Kappa chap­ter who, in the opin­ion of the chap­ter, has achieved an impres­sive under­grad­u­ate record and is com­mit­ted to a grad­u­ate pro­gram. The Alpha Asso­ci­a­tion also gives smaller awards to graduating high school students, designed to help pay university application fees and for visits to prospective campuses.  All of these awards are funded through donations made to the Association by its members.

His­tory of the PBK Schol­ar­ship and Awards Programs

In the found­ing years of the Asso­ci­a­tion, when num­bers and finan­cial sup­port were small, the pri­mary out­reach to col­lege and uni­ver­sity stu­dents was through an annual essay con­test that pro­vided finan­cial grants to win­ners who wrote on rec­om­mended sub­ject fields pri­mar­ily related to the lib­eral arts.  This widely accepted pro­gram existed until the years of World War II.

It was at the end of the war years that a major shift in the Association’s out­reach pro­gram to stu­dents in local col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties occurred.  The year 1948 was the begin­ning of the nearly seventy-year-old Inter­na­tional Schol­ar­ship Fund, to be fol­lowed in time by the Grad­u­ate Study Awards and the High School Awards, with an out­stand­ing total esti­mate of close to $1,400,000 in stu­dent awards.

The idea for the Inter­na­tional Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram dates to 1945, at the end of World War II, when key Asso­ci­a­tion mem­bers were inspired to act to pre­vent another such cat­a­stro­phe.  They termed their pro­gram an “Invest­ment in World Unity” and set out to raise funds to assist inter­na­tional stu­dents study­ing in local higher edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions, par­tic­u­larly those pur­su­ing grad­u­ate degrees who would find it dif­fi­cult because of the lack of United States cit­i­zen­ship to obtain funds.  Dur­ing the 1948 initial-campaign year there was an out­pour­ing of sup­port for the move­ment, and dol­lars began to arrive. By 1958, an esti­mated $45,000 had been raised and allo­cated to stu­dent res­i­dents of a num­ber of coun­tries, who upon com­plet­ing their degrees returned to their home­lands. The pro­gram grew through the years, and although some records were incom­plete, the num­ber of stu­dents assisted was in the hun­dreds.  Like­wise, although incom­plete trea­sury reports do not pro­vide a totally accu­rate num­ber of dol­lars raised and spent, a fair esti­mate is over $1million.

To honor domes­tic stu­dents, the Asso­ci­a­tion in 1980 estab­lished Grad­u­ate Study Awards, a pro­gram, which as it oper­ates today, pro­vides a mon­e­tary award to one grad­u­at­ing Phi Beta Kappa senior from each of the ten col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia with chap­ters.  

In 1995, a mod­est award pro­gram was inau­gu­rated to rec­og­nize up to four aca­d­e­m­i­cally qual­i­fied seniors each year from Los Ange­les high schools, the grants intended to be used pri­mar­ily toward col­lege tuition costs.  


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Phi Beta Kappa Alumni in Southern California is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

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