Who We Are

ARCS is investing in the future of science in America

October 4, 1957 was a game-changer. On that date, Russia launched Sputnik, a 183- pound spaceship, roughly the size of a beach ball, into space. This surprise launch shocked the United States and forced it to rethink its place as the technological leader of the world. It also ushered in the Space Age and the Cold War. The Russian action touched all areas of America, including politics, patriotism, science, the military, and education. In response, the U.S. undertook an unprecedented push to educate Americans in science and math.

As part of that initiative, a group of women in Los Angeles saw the opportunity to make a difference by creating a partnership between science and society. Their goal was to re-establish and re-energize the technological superiority of the United States. They started the first ARCS Foundation chapter in September 1958. ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization founded and administered by women who support American leadership and aid advancement in science and technology.

In 1985, four San Diego women followed their lead and established ARCS Foundation San Diego. We are committed to scientific advancement in STEM areas: science, technology, engineering, and math. Our mission is to address the country’s need for scientists and engineers by providing unrestricted funding to help our country’s brightest U.S. graduate Scholars. We sponsor talented, motivated American students at top research universities in San Diego. Our Scholars are undertaking research creating new knowledge and innovative technologies necessary to compete in today’s global economy. The ARCS Scholars we support inspire us and underscore a bright future for America.

ARCS San Diego Founders

Karen Bowden
Karen Bowden
Karon Luce
Karon Luce
(in memoriam)
Barbara McColl
Barbara McColl
Pattie Wellborn
Pattie Wellborn

ARCS San Diego: Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does the acronym ARCS stand for? Achievement Rewards for College Scientists
  • At what schools does ARCS support Scholars? San Diego State University, Scripps Research, UC San Diego and University of San Diego
  • How are ARCS Scholars selected? Universities select Scholars based on ARCS national criteria: must be U.S. citizens, a minimum GPA of 3.5, enrolled full-time in STEM research fields, pursuing a PhD degree
  • How much did the San Diego Chapter award in the 2020-2021 fiscal year? $420,000 awarded to 46 Scholars
  • How much is an annual Scholar Award? $5,000 at Scripps Research or $10,000 at UCSD, SDSU, and USD; renewable for 3 years for students pursuing a PhD in a STEM field. Awards are unrestricted and scholars can use funds as needed
  • What is the graduation rate? 98% graduate
  • How are Scholar funds raised? Donations from ARCS members, ARCS Scholar alumni, academic partners, Foundations, industry, and individuals in the community
  • How much of the funding is used for administrative costs? None. 100% of Scholar Award contributions go directly to Scholars
  • When was the ARCS San Diego Chapter founded? 1985
  • How much has ARCS San Diego given to Scholars since its founding? Over $10.5 million
  • Does ARCS San Diego have an Endowment Fund? Yes, over $2.5 million, restricted to Scholar funding. A portion of earnings is directed to Scholar Awards annually.
  • How many Chapters are there? 15 across the United States
  • What is the impact of ARCS Chapters nationwide? Since 1958, more than $115 million has been awarded at 49 ARCS affiliated universities
  • What is the ARCS Fiscal Year? July 1 - June 30

Our Annual Reports

Dr. Danielle Grotjahn
Dr. Danielle Grotjahn, ARCS Scholar Alumna at Scripps Research (2016-2018)
"My favorite part of being an ARCS Scholar was really feeling like I was part of a broader community. I want to thank ARCS for helping me develop these skills and fostering my scientific and professional development."
Dr. Catie Madani
Dr. Catie Madani, ARCS Member & ARCS Scholar Alumna at USD (2012-2014)
"In 2018, I was honored to be invited to become a member of the San Diego Chapter. My research interest then, and now, continues to be palliative care utilization in people living with serious illness."
Dr. Ludovic Vincent
Dr. Ludovic Vincent, ARCS Scholar Alumnus at UC San Diego (2011-2014)
"ARCS has been contributing to and supporting the scientists that help fight this global pandemic. Thank you so much for your support."