San Jose program for free college gets $250K eBay donation

A program that provides free college to hundreds of underprivileged San Jose students on Monday has received a boost from a longtime local tech business.

Through its foundation, San Jose-based eBay is donating $250,000 to the San José-Evergreen Community College District Foundation to support San José Promise, the program that offers up to two years of free college to as many as 500 low-income high school students. The initiative was created in early 2017 .

The donation will support the 2020 cohort of students, which is the fourth since the program was created by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in 2017.

“San José Promise is designed to remove barriers and ensure more local students have access to higher education and enhanced services. This approach facilitates student success once they enroll in college,” SJECCD Chancellor Byron D. Clift Breland said in a statement. “This support from the eBay Foundation will help provide a direct pathway from high school to a career for countless students in our community.”

The money is geared toward low-income, first-generation and historically underrepresented students — including those who are undocumented. More than 85 percent of the students in the program qualify as low-income and are the first in their families to attend college, school officials said.

According to statistics provided by the program, 84 out of 100 high school students are expected to graduate. Of those, 60 percent will attend college and 30 percent are expected to earn a degree or certificate in six years. The program aims to increase those numbers by providing free on-site community college classes to high school students, help with applying for financial aid, scholarships to pay for up to two years of college and pathways to work for some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent employers, such as eBay.

“At eBay, our mission is to create opportunity. Our technology platform is built on the promise that anyone with an idea can turn their dream into a business success, and for nearly 25 years, we have called San Jose home,” Allie Ottoboni, philanthropy manager at the eBay Foundation, told San José Spotlight. “We are thrilled to invest in our local community and to support students in achieving their own dreams through the San José Promise program.”

Initially, San José Promise was primarily funded by an initial two-year grant from the California College Promise Innovation Grant Program, which awarded SJECCD with $1.5 million in funds.

Liccardo on Monday said the investment from eBay “will be transformative in the lives of our students.”

“San José Promise reflects our city’s collective commitment to ensuring that underserved San José high school students have the opportunity to continue their education and pursue a future with unlimited opportunity,” Liccardo added. “We are proud to partner with San José-Evergreen Community College District on this effort and grateful for eBay’s generous gift.”

The funds, managed by Silicon Valley Community Foundation, will be immediately available for San José Promise scholarships and services.

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