Congratulations to the 2016 Gates Millennium Scholars!!

“I’ve always had this goal inside me, like, I want to change the world.”

May 15th, 2016

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Grace Park – Oakland High, Class of 2016

Cheers and congratulations to Grace Park of Oakland High School and Daniela Hernandez Perez of Lighthouse Community Charter High School!

They’re the only two Oakland students to receive the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship this year! It’s a big deal because 53,000 students applied for this full-ride scholarship and only 1,000 made it!

Grace is still reeling from the great news!!

Here’s more on the scholarship, from the official press release:


$1.6 Billion Flagship Program Announces Final Class of 1,000 Scholarship Recipients

WASHINGTON (May 2, 2016) – UNCF’s high-impact scholarship initiative, the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program, today announced its final class of high school recipients. Each of the 1,000 students, who must demonstrate financial need, will be awarded a scholarship that can be used to pursue a degree in any undergraduate major and selected graduate programs at accredited colleges or universities of his or her choosing.

The GMS program is known for its recipients’ high graduation rates across the nation’s top institutions: a six-year graduation rate in excess of 90 percent, more than 50 percent higher than the national graduation rate for students of color and comparable to the success rate of students from much more prosperous families. GMS provides recipients with leadership development opportunities, mentoring, academic and social support as well as financial support. In addition, continuing Gates Millennium Scholars can request a fellowship for a graduate degree program in one of the following academic disciplines: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science.

The class of 2016, who were selected from a pool of 53,000 applicants, will be the final cohort of Gates Millennium Scholars, as the program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation meets its goal of selecting 20,000 students from low-income backgrounds. UNCF will administer the GMS Program through its conclusion in 2028-29.

“The dividends from the foundation’s investment in the Gates Millennium Scholars Program have reached far beyond the students who have participated directly,” said UNCF President and CEO Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D. “It has strengthened UNCF’s capacity to create the next generation of leaders and allowed us to leverage other substantial gifts that will also positively impact deserving students of color from low-income backgrounds. Further, by changing deeply rooted perceptions about the educational potential of these young women and men—not just Gates Millennium Scholars, but all high-achieving students of color—the GMS program has greatly enhanced the value society places on them, not only as students, but as professionals, citizens and leaders. We heartily welcome the class of 2016 into the GMS family.”
Established in 1999 with the goal of developing Leaders for America’s FutureTM, the GMS program is funded by a $1.6 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, making it the largest single gift to a scholarship provider. Each year, the program enables more than 5,000 students who must be African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian American/Pacific Islander or Hispanic American to attend and graduate from more than 1,100 of the most selective private and public schools in the country. These include Ivy League colleges, flagship state universities, UNCF-member historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions.

This year’s cohort represents 45 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. Gates Millennium Scholars have been chosen for the Marshall Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, Fulbright Scholars, Gates Cambridge Scholars and White House Fellows programs.

“We are excited to welcome the class of 2016 Gates Millennium Scholars,” said Larry Griffith, senior vice president of programs and student services for UNCF. “Their GMS program peers have already demonstrated that students from these backgrounds are rich in talent and that they excel at the highest levels in any of the nation’s colleges and universities they choose to attend. I am confident that this cohort of extraordinary students will add to the depth and breadth of the GMS program and continue to carry out a long-standing legacy of academic excellence. By every measure, GMS has been a resounding success, changing the lives of the students whose education it has made possible. We look forward to the positive impact the program will have on the lives of these new Gates Millennium Scholars and, in turn, how they will enhance the communities of their choice.”

UNCF annually awards more than $100 million via 10,000 scholarships each year. Through GMS, UNCF has partnered with the American Indian Graduate Center Scholars, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund to select and provide service to Gates Millennium Scholars.

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