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.
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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 2019-2020 fiscal year? $405,000 awarded to 57 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 $2.1 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
Rigo Cintron-Colon, Ph.D. Candidate in Molecular Medicine
"I am deeply grateful for your committed and outstanding support. It has been crucial to continue my development as an established scientist and the realization of my future career goals."
Rachel Collins, Member
"My favorite part of being a member of ARCS is meeting the scholars, hearing about their research and seeing their enthusiasm and dedication to their work."
Emily Wheeler Ph.D. Candidate in Bio-Medicine, UC San Diego
"Becoming an ARCS Scholar has given me an incredible opportunity to connect with a network of women who have led inspiring careers in science and who are full of wisdom to share. As a female scientist, their support and encouragement help to motivate me and maintain my focus to achieve an academic science career. ARCS celebrates success in science and it is an honor to be part of this impressive community!"