FullBloom Baking Company Sends Kids to College with Smart Cookie Scholarship

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FullBloom Baking Company Sends Kids to College with Smart Cookie Scholarship

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FullBloom Baking Company's founder, Karen Trilevsky, uses her own money to send kids to college. Over the past 8 years, she has sent 67 kids to college, and was recently featured as a "Hero" in People Magazine.  Here's the story about this innovative scholarship program that includes mentoring, along with funds for college.

Friday, May 21, 2010 - 11:08am

CONTENT: Press Release

In 2002, Karen Trilevsky started a non-profit college scholarship called Smart Cookie as a way to support and encourage the children of FullBloom’s employees. It has now expanded to the community at large. Since starting the program Karen has helped fund and mentor 67 kids through college. The program counts 27 Smart Cookies enrolled in college today.

Karen learned first-hand about the educational needs of these kids through her employees, many of whom are Mexican American immigrants with little or no English language skills. She also saw too many of her employees limited in their career opportunities due to a lack of formal post secondary education. Despite the fact that Karen’s own circumstances prevented her from acquiring a college education, she strongly believes in the value of higher education.

Among the program’s many success stories are an immigration attorney, a nurse, and a civil engineer who credit Karen for giving them the financial backing that has allowed them to follow their academic dreams and become thriving professionals whose careers are based on access to quality post-secondary education.

Karen recently handed over the management of the program to the Women's Foundation, and is involved in the funding, selection, and the lives of the students who receive Smart Cookie scholarships. Students are currently enrolled Foothill Community College, UC Davis, Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara, San Jose State, University of Oregon and Sacramento State, among others.

At the core of Smart Cookie is mentoring, coaching and counseling, coupled with financial assistance. Karen and her board of advisors each “adopt” a small group of students who send their mentors weekly email updates and meet quarterly face-to-face to keep apprised of their progress, challenges, and to cheer on their successes. Students get access to academic and career advice, as well as counseling to help them manage the transition that comes from frequently being the first in their families to attend college. “These kids want to navigate the educational system; they just don’t know how,” says Karen.  Another feature is that the scholarship covers all the students’ expenses: tuition, housing, books, and other necessary resources to succeed. “I was offered a college tuition, but I couldn’t afford to pay for my living expenses, so I went to work instead,” explains Karen. “I didn’t want these kids to forfeit a scholarship because it didn’t cover the incremental costs too.”

The goal of the Smart Cookie program is to show young people that they have every right to dream big. “They may believe that they’re not supposed to succeed in life,” Trilevsky notes. “The Smart Cookie Fund is just a small part of breaking down these kinds of myths”.

Karen believes in “paying it forward”. Scholarship recipients are required to do 20 hours of community service a month.  In return, students have access to laptop computers, extensive English, Spanish, math and computer classes.

Karen, who never had the opportunity to attend college, is making this educational opportunity for others the sweetest gift of all.


Keywords: Education | Karen Trilevsky | Smart Cookies | fullbloom | scholarship

CONTENT: Press Release