Sixty years after its inception, the Inverness Garden Club Scholarship Fund is rebranding as the West Marin Scholarship Program to reflect the community it serves, showcase the depth of its mentoring and establish itself as a tool for the education community of West Marin.

Starting in 1961, the fund gave $100 to a single student every year for 18 years. As the committee attracted more members and donors, its traction grew. In 2018, the committee separated from the Inverness Garden Club and formed its own nonprofit. With the new organization dedicated to scholarships, the number of scholars under the program skyrocketed. A name change was next in order.

“Over the last few years, we have been discussing a name change so that the community would better understand what we are and that we are involved with all coastal West Marin students,” Linda Lustig, who served as chair of the former fund, said.

This year, the program supported 76 college-bound scholars with between $2,000 and $10,000 to be put toward tuition and living costs. Of those, 26 were new to the program; the rest were returning to college with renewed funds. Reapplication is required each year, and many of the scholars receive funds for all four years of their undergraduate careers.

The funds come with certain requirements, such as having at least a 2.7 high school G.P.A., demonstrating financial need and living in West Marin. Applicants don’t have to be perfect students or know exactly what they want to get out of a college experience. The program is looking for students who are driven to take that next step in their academic journeys.

“We are very supportive of kids who go to junior colleges or pursue certificate programs,” said Amanda Mallory, chair of the program. “We want each student to do what is right for them, we want them to realize their own goals. Not all our scholars have to travel the traditional path.”

Two-year programs, trade work certificates, delayed starts after graduating from high school— all financial, academic and familial backgrounds are taken into consideration. Along with the funds, each scholar is paired with a liaison who is a member of the board. The liaison monitors and mentors the scholar throughout each semester.

Ariana Aparicio, who started receiving a scholarship in 2007, underscored the importance of mentoring. A first-generation college graduate, Ms. Aparicio was born in Mexico City and raised in Point Reyes Station, and attended Tomales High. When she applied to college, she was an undocumented citizen protected under DACA. Federal or state financial aid applications require a social security number, but the West Marin Scholarship Program is one of the few sources that doesn’t. This opened the door for Ms. Aparicio, who said she had been discouraged at times from pursuing higher education at private institutions.

“I know now how much mentorship programs are beneficial to someone like me, embarking on the journey with a first-generation background,” she said.

Ms. Aparicio is now a doctoral student with her eyes set on an administrative role in higher education. She wants young students to get started on their academic journeys as soon as possible, even if it means beginning with a junior college.

“At junior college I was given a foundation, and my classes gave me a better understanding of who I am in American society,” she said.

For more information on this year’s scholars and how to donate, visit the fund’s new website,