Community Scholars for Black Lives Fellowship Program

Current cohort of scholars

Left to right: Jon Gustin 26’, Avya Pandhi 26’, Devon Goosby 26’, Angela Abalo 26’, Davian Gonzalez 26’; Photo: Obinna Anyanwu

Cal Lutheran created this program in 2020 to empower students to develop projects designed to strengthen the Black community. With the Amgen Foundation as its major funder, the program was inspired by the challenge from North Central University in Minnesota to establish memorial scholarships in George Floyd’s name.

Fall 2023 will represent the fourth cohort of students who engage in work that embodies progress toward a just society. The program features scholarship, mentorship and community partnerships. Note: This scholarship is contingent on California Lutheran University receiving grant funding from AMGEN Foundation.

Support This Scholarship

If you would like to make a gift to support this scholarship, you can give online to our fund.

Jump to: Benefits & Expectations | About | Current Scholars | How to Apply | Past Scholars | Photo Gallery | Partners

Program Benefits and Expectations

By becoming a Community Scholar for Black Lives, students gain access to a number of valuable benefits.

  • $5,000 Fellowship Scholarship Award
  • Mentorship from faculty
  • Engagement in organizations focused on African American progress
  • Travel funds to attend conference
  • Project budget up to $500
  • Recognition as Community Scholar
About the Program

On May 25, 2020, the world witnessed the modern-day lynching of a Black man. His name, George Floyd, has been added to a litany of names of people who encountered similar fates. Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Rashard Brooks, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Meagan Hockaday are among the numerous Black lives lost to the use of deadly force by police and racially motivated acts of violence, oftentimes with no criminal repercussion.

The year 2020 brought the issue of race to the forefront on many different levels.  As students, you witnessed or heard about racial slurs and derogatory depictions of Black people on our own campus and, while amid working toward making Cal Lutheran a more welcoming place, the horrendous killing of George Floyd by police reminded us all of the gravity of racism in the U.S. In response, millions of people have taken to the streets to rally for change, yet the number of people who lack understanding about the inequities confronted by Black people is daunting. Of those who do understand the issues, many feel helpless or hopeless. So where do we go from here?


2023-24 Community Scholars for Black Lives Cohort

Jon "JC" Gustin

Avya Pandhi

Devon Goosby

Angela Abalo

Davian Gonzalez





How to Become a Community Scholar for Black Lives

Student Eligibility

  1. Open to Cal Lutheran undergraduate and graduate students with at least one year of studies left prior to graduation
  2. Must be at least a sophomore during program year
  3. Must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above
  4. Must demonstrate evidence of interest in equity and justice: major or minor discipline, community service, demonstrated involvement in organizations focused on advancing racial justice or specifically focused on progress for African Americans

Steps to Apply

  1. Submit an application with a Statement of Purpose and Project Proposal attached (see Additional Instructions below for details)
  2. Send a Cal Lutheran transcript (unofficial transcripts are accepted)
  3. Upload a Recommendation Letter

Submit Your Application

Important Dates

Date Event
April 21, 2023 at 4 p.m. (Mandatory)

Application Webinar
RSVP here

May 15, 2023

Application Period Opens

June 18, 2023 Application Priority Deadline
Accepting Applications for Fall 2023 Current Program Term

Applicant Review Criteria

  1. The student’s motivation to become a Community Scholar for Black Lives is alignment with the purpose of the program (statement of purpose).
  2. The proposed project advances the goals of the Community Scholars for Black Lives Program.
  3. The project is clearly explained.
  4. The need for the project is clearly established with evidence.
  5. Project activities and related work are realistic and achievable.
  6. The timetable for major activities is realistic and likely to be attained.
  7. The budget is realistic.
  8. Applicant is competent to carry out the project (academic achievement, educational background, experience).
  9. The letter from a faculty member strongly supports the student’s capacity and interest to achieve the goals of the Community Scholars for Black Lives Program.
  10. The essay and proposal are free from distracting errors.

Additional Instructions

Questions? Email us today and we would be happy to assist you.

Past Cohorts of Community Scholars for Black Lives


Rakaihya Thomas

Rakaihya Thomas

Elul Nedi

Elul Nedi

Adgbemisola (Gbemi) Abon

Gbemi Abon

Valerie Salazar

Valerie Salazar


Teketa  Bellamy

Teketa Bellamy

Jaden Lyons

Jaden Lyons

Sloan Sanders

Sloan Sanders

Sarah Wells

Sarah Wells



Emozino Ayetuoma

Emozino Ayetuoma

Landry Irumva

Landry Irumva

Elysia Williams

Elysia Williams



Recent Scholars in Action

Photo Gallery

Thank You to Our Community Partners

Cal Lutheran has partnered with six organizations based in Ventura County that focus on the advancement of African Americans. Representatives from each organization will weigh in on the selection of scholars and will participate as advisers to the scholars. The Community Scholars for Black Lives program will further permeate the community as each organization awards scholarships to college-bound high school seniors. Partner organizations are:

  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. — Xi Iota Lambda Chapter
  • The Channel Islands Chapter of The Links, Inc.
  • Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. — Psi Xi Chapter
  • Ventura County Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Students Securing and Achieving Their Future Through Education (SSAFE)
  • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity