Natural Disaster Support Scholarship Fund

Natural Disaster Support Scholarship Fund

Photo Credit: DMT Imaging

River School Elementary School teacher Will Bans established the Natural Disaster Support Scholarship Fund after the Colorado Fire in the Palo Colorado Canyon. Will, who taught many Palo residents at Captain Cooper Elementary in Big Sur from 2012-21, sought a way to recognize students who perpetually face natural disaster-related hurdles and academic setbacks as residents in the outer areas of the Carmel Unified School District. Fires, mudslides, compromised infrastructure, Highway 1 closures, inability to attend CHS and CMS classes in person, and uncertainty in the household are all part of their reality. The scholarship is open to any CHS senior whose K–12 experience was impacted by a natural disaster. When $10,000 is raised, the scholarship will reach endowment status through the nonprofit Carmel High School Foundation to fund an annual $500 scholarship in perpetuity. More donations beyond the initial $10,000 will create more scholarships.

The hardest part for me was driving back home after the Carmel Fire. Everything was lifeless. Everything was covered in black. Everything was gone. … The weeks after we came back, my family was living off a generator. The wi-fi was very spotty, making it hard to learn during online classes, and also there was always the loud generator in the background. My sisters and I did the best we could in this situation.” — Class of 2022 recipient Jovanna Martinez

About the Scholarship

The Natural Disaster Support Scholarship awards a student in the Carmel Unified School District a scholarship. The opportunity is open to any Carmel High School senior whose K–12 experience was impacted or set back by a natural disaster.

The scholarship is an acknowledgment from the community that our students face atypical challenges in academics and life. There is only one road to and from school for many CUSD students, and it closes periodically because of natural disasters and other problems. The students report natural disaster events are some of the most difficult times of their lives, with multiple harrowing experiences by the time they graduate high school. 

Grassroots Effort

During the Colorado Fire, Will Bans and his wife, Analis, first organized a fundraiser through GoFundMe. The community rallied, and 124 donations contributed to successfully reaching the fundraising goal. Half the proceeds went to the volunteer-run Mid-Coast Fire Brigade in Palo Colorado, and the other half toward scholarships. 

Many local businesses supported the effort: the Esalen Institute, Henry Miller Memorial Library, Aubergine, Big Sur Lodge, Big Sur River Inn, Nepenthe, Alta Bakery, local pastry chef Michelle Lee, Big Sur Adventures, Refuge, Valley Botanicals, and Happy Girl Kitchen, among others. 

The fundraiser’s success and all the support proved that our community wants to lift these students. 

Make a Gift

  • To make a gift to the Natural Disaster Support Scholarship Fund, donate directly and securely online here or click on the “Donate Now” button below.

Donate Now

  • Send a check made payable to “Community Foundation for Monterey County” with “Natural Disaster Support Scholarship Fund” in the memo line
    Mail to:
    Community Foundation for Monterey County
    2354 Garden Road, Monterey, CA 93940
  • To make a gift of stock or other assets, please contact Christine Dawson, Senior Vice President Philanthropic Services at 831.375.9712 x126.

Donations to the Natural Disaster Support Scholarship Fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County (CFMC) are tax deductible.
The CFMC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization,Tax ID #94-1615897.