Our Story

The Need

Overcome Challenges

The USC Bovard Scholars program exists to help talented students from low-income families overcome challenges such as:


Limited access to college counseling at public schools due to systemic problems in the U.S. educational system

Belief that attending a highly selective university is unaffordable

Difficulty navigating the complex admissions process

Figuring out how to connect career aspirations to academic majors

Finding the best college for their specific needs and interests

Limited access to tools and resources which ensure their success in college and beyond

Our Approach

We encourage students to aim higher

Many outstanding students from educationally and economically under-resourced communities do not even apply to the nation’s best universities — despite the extreme likelihood not only of being admitted but also of receiving generous financial aid that often makes it less expensive than attending less-selective colleges.

Some 72 percent of students in America’s most competitive higher education institutions are from the top socioeconomic quartile, while only 3 percent hail from the bottom quartile, according to research from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

“High-achieving students who attend more selective schools graduate at higher rates, earn higher incomes, and are more likely to pursue a graduate degree. In other words, where you go to school matters.”

USC Bovard Scholars is designed to help level the playing field, encourage underserved students to aim higher and provide the support necessary to hit that target.

We help define dreams and make them reality

How do we expect young people to dream if they don’t know what to dream about? It is increasingly challenging for students to identify, assess and act upon their career options as they plan for college and their ultimate futures.

Opportunities for career exploration give high schoolers broader exposure to the working world they will one day enter, while helping them align their career goals with the appropriate academic pathways to help achieve them. Career exploration experiences and opportunities also have been shown to improve academic performance and persistence, motivating students to graduate with the skills they need for continued success in their careers and lives.

For all of these reasons and more, career exploration and planning is a pivotal component of the USC Bovard Scholars program.

“Do not miss out on a wonderful experience. Not only do you leave feeling like you learned so much, but you leave with a huge network of people who care about you, and want you to succeed.”

—Rhondaya Fishburne, ‘17 Bovard Scholar, Alum of University of Southern California