New Scholarship Will Help a California Community College Student Study Communications at an HBCU

California's Hoffman Agency established the scholarship that covers full tuition and fees and highlights the California Community Colleges Transfer Guarantee Pathway to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
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  • The Hoffman Agency is sponsoring a new scholarship for a California Community College student.
  • The scholarship will cover two years of tuition and fees for a student studying communications at an HBCU.
  • Applications close March 15, and the winner will be announced in April.

There is a new scholarship opportunity for California Community College students who want to study communications.

The Hoffman Agency, a California-based public relations agency, announced this month that it will cover two years of full tuition and fees for one student studying communications at a historically Black college or university (HBCU).

Applicants must currently be enrolled at a California Community College during the 2022-2023 academic year and provide a letter of acceptance from one of the 39 HBCU partners of the California Community Colleges, according to the scholarship website.

Applications are due March 15, 2023.

Lou Hoffman, CEO of the Hoffman Agency, told BestColleges that he originally had "no idea" that California Community Colleges had a partnership with HBCUs. He said it was Helen Young, assistant project director at California Community College Chancellor's Office, who told him about the opportunity and suggested that a scholarship may be a vehicle for diversifying the field of communications.

"We thought if we could somehow tap [the California Community College student population] and advocate for a career in communications … that has the potential to have a material impact on our industry and get more kids from diverse backgrounds into communications," he said.

The California Community Colleges Transfer Guarantee Pathway to Historically Black Colleges and Universities program guarantees any student in the California Community College system admission to partner HBCUs as long as they have a minimum GPA of 2.0 and have completed an associate degree or a minimum of 30 University of California or California State University credits while at a California Community College, according to the organization's website.

Certain institutions will require a higher GPA for acceptance.

Since all the partner HBCUs are located in the South, Midwest, and East Coast, any student from California would be considered out-of-state and have to pay out-of-state tuition. Hoffman said this is where the company's scholarship can help.

"It's not just that there are no HBCUs in California, the closest ones are right there on the other side of the country. So, it's natural that there isn't this massive, robust pipeline of kids in California going into HBCUs," he said. "The thing we're going to try to track is how much of an impact we can have on that."

Hoffman, and his wife, Heather, jointly oversee the nonprofit entity that houses the scholarship. Hoffman says his wife inspired his investment in the community.

"This is going to sound cliché, but she's the type of person who lives her life trying to make things better for others. That's been the inspiration to do something more as a company and led the way to the California Community College initiative and the HBCU scholarship," he said.

The Hoffman Agency is also engaging with California Community College students by building relationships with professors and counselors at the individual school level. Hoffman says he hopes that the company can offer guest speakers and provide feedback on curriculum that "reflects the real world" and gets students excited about pursuing a career in communications.

"The scholarship is a means [but] is not the end. One scholarship is great, but that doesn't really move the needle," he explained. "It's the idea of using the scholarship as the platform that then allows us to share the incredible benefits of a communications career and try to get more kids involved in pursuing that path … the bigger picture [is] we just want more kids of diversity taking a hard look at communications."

While only one student will get their tuition and fees covered by the Hoffman Agency, next year the company will be covering two students: one in their junior year and one in their senior year at an HBCU. Hoffman says he wants to encourage other PR agencies in California and across the country to partner with their local community colleges.

"For California-based committed communication consultancies, this is something we should all get behind because it's such an incredible program," he said.

"When you think about the huge percentage of diverse kids in the California Community College system that's already super high quality, and then they've got these partner HBCUs — if we can increase the pipeline of California Community College kids into HBCUs, that's a winning proposition for everybody."