Resiliency Fund

The Resiliency Fund

Join us. Preserve the dream of a college education.

Honor a legacy,
build a future.

Dr. Pamela Luster, esteemed President of San Diego Mesa College, retired in June 2022 after 11 years of service to Mesa students. In honor of her commitment to equity, she has a vision: to endow a permanent fund upon her retirement to help students who need it most. We invite you to join us in creating this legacy.

Mesa held a celebration in honor of Dr. Luster benefiting the Resiliency Fund in June 2022. If you were unable to attend, and/or would still like to give to this fund, please consider giving a gift in honor of Dr. Luster.

Give now

Prez Pam event graphic

of our students are food insecure and have limited access to nutritionally adequate food

1 in 5
students are homeless, living on the streets, in their car, or in a shelter

Each day, over 40% of Mesa College students don't know where they will get their next meal. Nearly 20% leave campus each night without a safe place to go, much less a place to study.

Yet each day, these students show up eager to learn, ready to work, and committed to building a brighter future. That's resiliency.

Join us – and help keep these students in college!

Our goal is to raise $300,000 to support students when they need it the most.

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Donations - Matching Funds


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Double Your Impact

For every dollar you give, we will donate another dollar to the Resiliency Fund. Originally $75,000, our matching funds have grown to nearly $90,000 thanks to generous donors who believe this fund will transform futures.

Give today to double your impact.

$1 from you

+ $1 from us

= $2 for students

collage photos of students at the CRUISE
showcase of happy Mesa students

Double your impact.

Be there for our students when they need it most.

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The Resiliency Fund

For many of Mesa’s hardworking students who are making it on their own, there is no lifeline upon which they can call when life throws them the unexpected. Surviving on such tight margins means that when an unforeseen expense pops up, the only available choice is to drop out of college to focus on immediate needs.

That's resiliency – at a cost.

At Mesa College, we believe that the resiliency and hard work of our students should be rewarded, and shouldn't come at the cost of a college education. That's why we are creating the Resiliency Fund, which will provide emergency grants and loans of $50-$500 to our most financially vulnerable students so that they may overcome financial setbacks without dropping out.

Why the Resiliency Fund?

A short-term problem shouldn't get in the way of long-term success

How much is a college education worth? By some estimates, based on national average yearly salary data, a college degree may increase lifetime earnings by over $2.2 million.

Imagine if a $50 short-term expense stood between you and the potential to earn $2.2 million. You'd pay the $50, right? What if you couldn't?

For too many Mesa students, small financial setbacks put their entire education at risk. A flat tire eliminates the entire grocery budget for the month. A missed day at work due to illness or injury makes paying rent on time impossible and results in late fees. Caught in a downward spiral, immediate relief comes only through the short-term fix of dropping out of college to increase work hours.

By investing in those who are investing in themselves, you have the power to preserve the opportunity of a college education.

Emergency funds help students regain financial stability--without dropping out. One-time support for basic needs, combined with referrals to community resources, help students weather financial setbacks and stay focused on long-term goals. What's more, these funds send a message to students that their hard work matters, and brings hope that the sacrifices they are making today will secure a much brighter tomorrow.

Money is the #1 reason that students give for dropping out of college without a degree.

One in four students have dropped a class because they could not afford the required textbooks.

70% of students are working to support themselves and their families while in school.

How Will Funds Be Used?

100% of donations for the Resiliency Fund will go directly to helping students cover financial emergencies that put them at risk of dropping out. Through small grants and loans of $50-$500, we will focus on ensuring students have:

  • The needed textbooks and study materials - vouchers for textbooks, gifts of backpacks, and basic school supplies.
  • A safe place to stay (and study) - subsidies for utilities, one-time eviction prevention grants, and vouchers for discounted or fully-funded hotel stays for those facing a short-term housing crisis.
  • The means to get to class - bus passes and loans or payments to cover the cost of car repairs.
  • Enough food to get by - gift cards to grocery stores, access to both grocery staples and free fresh produce.
  • Resources to stay well - subsidies for copays and prescription glasses/contacts.

The Difference You Can Make

By working together, we can do twice as much.

San Diego Mesa College Foundation will match all donations to the Resiliency Fund, dollar for dollar, for the first $75,000 donated. That means that for each dollar you give, two dollars will be invested into preserving opportunity for students.

To donate via check, please make payable to San Diego Mesa College Foundation indicating “Resiliency Fund”

Send to:

7250 Mesa College Drive
Foundation, A-111
San Diego, CA 92111
Attn: Resiliency Fund

For questions, contact Krista Stellmacher at or 619-388-2285.

Here’s what your investment can do:

$50 donation

$100 impact

replaces a flat tire or provides a bus pass for a student to get to class

$100 donation

$200 impact

covers lost pay for a student making minimum wage who is sick for 2 days

$250 donation

$500 impact

provides 4 nights of a safe place to stay for a student experiencing domestic violence

$500 donation

$1,000 impact

covers repairs for 2 students living out of their car so they don’t end up on the street

$1,000 donation

$2,000 impact

helps preserve the dream of a college education for 10 students

$5,000+ donation

$10,000+ impact

transformative gift that will change the future of at least 50 students

Meet Our Students

Mesa students come from all walks of life. Many face barriers to accessing higher education, and community college offers a path to a college degree that wouldn’t otherwise exist. We serve many first generation, single parent, veteran, homeless, and recently immigrated students.

  • 9 of 10 San Diego students are from underrepresented communities
  • The average student has an unmet need of $10,281
  • About 1/2 of students come from families with a household income of less than $40,000 a year

Despite these challenges, Mesa College students show up eager to learn, ready to work, and committed to building a brighter future. Our Resiliency Fund honors their commitment to education.

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Meet Margarita

Margarita says the San Diego Mesa College gave her a “new purpose in life.” She is determined to make the most of her education and wants to one day run her own IT company.Learn more