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Treasurer Chiang Announces Scholar Dollars Winners

By John Chiang
California State Treasurer

To compete in today’s highly competitive global economy, our young students require a well-rounded education that combines reading, writing and arithmetic with coding, athletics and the fine arts.

Unfortunately, California’s schools find themselves struggling to ensure classrooms have the latest text books and basic supplies. As a result, many extracurricular activities – from band and sports to field trips and club activities – are being scaled back or canceled.

For far too long, students, parents, principals, and teachers have been seemingly fundraising year round to support extracurricular and after-school programs. Selling candy, holding bake sales and washing cars on weekends to provide basic education tools like band equipment, math tutoring and computer labs has become part of the curriculum.

To address this problem, in February my office launched the Scholar Dollars program. Scholar Dollars is administered by ScholarShare, California’s 529 college savings plan, which I chair.

Scholar Dollars was immensely successful in its inaugural year. More than 390 schools from up and down the Golden State registered and applied for a Scholar Dollars grant, and more than 400,000 votes were cast by parents, relatives, boosters and community members.

The ScholarDollars grant program did much to grab the public’s and parents’ attention about the need to begin saving early for children’s higher education. The voting process also provided ScholarShare administrators with the names of hundreds of thousands of potential, future account holders.

Winning schools came from the following cities: Burbank, Camarillo, Campbell, Carson, Castro Valley, Los Angeles, Northridge, Oakland, Sacramento, Santa Ana, South Gate, Visalia, and the city of Westminster and Windsor.

During the last month, we have celebrated with most of these winning schools with award ceremonies in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Castro Valley, and Westminster in Orange County.

I have personally seen how grateful the principals, teachers and students at these schools are to receive some much-needed funding to help create and build innovative teaching tools or extracurricular facilities and programs. 

One of the grant winners, South Gate Middle School, a Title I school in South Gate that serves more than 2,000 students, plans to use the $25,000 grant to design a Makerspace and technology lab to encourage students to build, explore and create. The lab’s goal is to help students develop critical thinking, communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills.

“Our school is overjoyed to have been selected to receive a Scholar Dollars grant,” said Janet Mack, principal at South Gate Middle School. “The grant will give us the boost we need to create our innovation lab and broaden our scope of learning for our students.”

Another grant recipient, Cali Calmecac Language Academy in Windsor, plans to use its $20,000 grant to purchase Google Chromebooks to help increase learning and aid in enrichment.

ScholarDollars owes a lot of its success in its first year to the principals, parents, teachers and our partner organizations, including the California State PTA, Association of California School Administrators, California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators, California Charter Schools Association, California School Employees Association, California Teachers Association, California Department of Education, and the Los Angeles Unified School District Board.  

There are a number of actions state leaders and I can take to create better opportunities for the people of California. But few will make as much of a difference as educating our young people.

Our young people are California’s next innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders. Providing them with an outstanding education is one of the best investments we can make as a state and as a country. That is why we must continue to pursue innovative solutions like Scholar Dollars.

To learn more about the Scholar Dollars program, I encourage you to visit And we hope your school will apply for a Scholar Dollars grant next year!

Full List of Scholar Dollars School Winners

School City Principal Grant Amount
Francophone Charter School of Oakland Oakland Lori MacDonald $5,000
Golden Oak Montessori of Hayward Castro Valley Gena Engelfried $5,000
Village Campbell James Crawford $5,000
Magnolia Science Academy 7 Northridge Fatih Metin $5,000
Multnomah Street Elementary Los Angeles Narajphan Asavasopon $10,000
Sequoia Elementary Westminster Michelle Watkins $10,000
William Land Elementary Sacramento Ellen Carlson $10,000
Willmore Elementary Westminster Nicole Jacobson $10,000
Leonardo Da Vinci Sacramento Devon Davis $15,000
Shannon Ranch Elementary Visalia Tara Sharp $15,000
Judith F. Baca Arts Academy Los Angeles Tracye McWhorter $15,000
Monte Vista Middle Camarillo Joseph Herzog $15,000
Santiago Elementary Santa Ana Norris Perez $20,000
Luther Burbank Middle Burbank Oscar Macias $20,000
Sutter Middle Sacramento Cristin Tahara-Martin $20,000
Cali Calmecac Language Academy Windsor Jeanne Acuna $20,000
Stephen M. White Middle Carson Adaina Brown $25,000
Thomas Starr King Middle School Film and Media Magnet Los Angeles Mark Naulls $25,000
Alfred B. Nobel Charter Middle Northridge Derek Horowitz $25,000
South Gate Middle South Gate Janet Mack $25,000