Matsui Foundation Writes Big Checks & Awards $1M In Scholarships

SALINAS, Calif. — The Matsui Foundation presented some really big checks at the Matsui Foundation Scholarship Awards Banquet on Friday night in Salinas, Calif., at Hartnell College’s Steinbeck Hall.

And we’re not talking just the amount. The checks, written for $30,000 each, were printed on oversized poster board measuring three feet across, a novelty that Matsui Foundation and Matsui Nursery founder Andy Matsui laughs about. “We’ve got to give our students big checks when they get big money!”

The Matsui Foundation presented the novelty checks to each of the 33 new students enrolled in the third cohort of CSin3 (formerly known as CSIT-in3), an award-winning accelerated three-year program providing its graduates with bachelor’s degrees in computer science. The program is offered in a unique partnership between Hartnell College and California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB).

Teresa Matsui, Matsui Nursery president and Matsui Foundation executive director, and daughter of Andy and Mary Matsui, told the audience about how her father continued to reinvent himself to become the successful orchid grower, business owner, and philanthropist he is today. This parallels the experience of many 2015 Matsui Scholars, who are enrolling in CSin3 after pursuing other academic endeavors and career paths. “What struck me about Cohort 3 was the number of students who are about to embark on this three-year journey, having made a deliberate choice away from a previous path,” said Matsui.

Both the Matsui Foundation and CSin3 target underserved students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. As with previous classes, Matsui observed the 2015 scholarship recipients include many students for whom “earning a degree in computer science means overcoming stereotypes and upending expectations for what a child from a lower-income, single-parent, or migrant family can achieve.”

Dr. William Barr, former Monterey County Superintendent of Schools and education consultant, related how Andy Matsui came to him at a Rotary Club meeting for guidance to maximize the Foundation’s impact. Starting with one $40,000 scholarship awarded in 2004, the Matsui Foundation has granted more than $5 million in scholarships to nearly 200 students in Monterey County during the past 11 years.

Barr helped Andy Matsui reinvent the Foundation’s programming after recognizing that institutional funding cutbacks made it increasingly difficult for students to complete their undergraduate studies in four years. “I remember Andy saying there’s got to be a better way,” said Barr. “And if there’s one thing I know about Andy and the Matsui family, it’s that they think in the future. They think forward.”

That’s when Barr connected the Matsui Foundation with the presidents of Hartnell College in Salinas and CSUMB in Marina, Calif. In the process, they met an

ambitious computer science professor named Joe Welch, who wanted to condense a four-year degree into three years. “Everyone said, OK. Let’s try it,” and this program was born with its first class in 2013.

Dr. Willard Lewallen, superintendent and president of Hartnell College, touted the CSin3 program as one of the most pioneering programs he’s ever seen. “The program has a student population that’s 80 percent Latino and 40 percent female,” he said. “Nobody else is even close to that.” Lewallen also said that the first cohort of students, who will be graduating in Spring 2016, had a 90 percent transfer rate from Hartnell, a community college, to four-year CSUMB – one of the highest transfer rates in the country.

Alonso Mendoza, a student from CSin3 Cohort 1, originally began his studies with an eye toward a degree in engineering or math. However, he was intrigued by CSin3. Said Mendoza: “I had no idea what computer science was, but I applied and got in. Right away I knew that I had gotten into a good program. It has changed my life.”

Mendoza also starred in the documentary about the CSin3 program shown to the audience of more than 200 students, faculty, staff, parents and other family members. (View the video here:

Maria Rivera, another Cohort 1 student, shared her experiences both with the academic program as well as with her paid internship at San Francisco-based CRM provider, Salesforce.

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The Matsui Foundation: Empowering students, enriching lives.

The mission of the Matsui Foundation is to empower students through education and to enrich their lives through knowledge and income opportunity. Established in 2004 by Andy Matsui, president and founder of Salinas orchid grower Matsui Nursery, the Matsui Foundation is funded by Matsui Nursery and the Matsui family and has granted more than $5 million in scholarships to nearly 200 underserved students in Monterey County. Currently, the Matsui Foundation is providing scholarships for each student in the innovative CSin3 computer science bachelor’s degree program offered by Hartnell College and California State University, Monterey Bay.

Source: The Matsui Foundation