Former Sachs Foundation scholarship recipients (clockwise from top left): Sofe' Mekuria; Ross Currington; Janasia Rapp; and Stephen Mobley.

A Colorado Springs-based nonprofit that awarded more than $2 million in scholarships in the past year will begin accepting applications on New Year's Day.

The Sachs Foundation, established in 1931 by Pikes Peak-area resident Henry Sachs, has helped more than 3,000 Black Coloradans afford college, according to foundation president Ben Ralston. The application period will run from Jan. 1 to March 15.

Depending on how far they wish to go in school, qualified candidates can receive up to $90,000 in scholarship funding.

“A student can get up to $50,000 in undergraduate scholarships, and if they wish to pursue a graduate degree, they can apply for up to an additional $40,000 for grad school,” Ralston said.

The nonprofit grants 40 to 50 scholarships each year and has awarded $2.44 million in educational grants in the past year alone, the foundation president said.

The Sachs Foundation provides scholars with more than funding, according to scholarship director Terrell Brown. Through a mentoring program called Elevated, the nonprofit helps prepare youths for the sometimes daunting experience of applying for and attending college. About 60% of Sachs scholarship recipients are first-generation collegians.

“We want to help them see it all the way through,” Brown said. “We’re making sure they can afford college, and that’s a big help to a struggling family, but so many of these kids are first-generation college students and don’t have family members who are familiar with the college experience. We help them with the entire process.”

The financial obstacles facing Black students today are not as stark as they were when the foundation was established 90 years ago, but young people of color still face a tougher road to a college degree than their white counterparts, according to Ralston. Because of this, the Sachs Foundation’s mission is as necessary and relevant as ever, he said.

“The truth of this might make some people uncomfortable, but wealth — or lack of wealth — is a generational issue,” Ralston said. “The same is true for educational opportunity. We are looking at data in Colorado and across the country, and the gap is still a large one.”

Black students are more likely than their white classmates to drop out of college for financial reasons, Ralston said, and those who graduate tend to have greater debt.

“What we do — providing educational opportunities for Black students — is still important,” Ralston said. “It was our original founding mission, and it is still our mission today.”

An undergraduate applicant must be an African-American high school senior and full-time Colorado resident with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher. A graduate-school candidate must be a former Sachs scholarship recipient who has completed an undergraduate degree program within the last three years.

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