Press Releases

Don Diego’s 23 Scholarship Recipients Are Eager to Make a Positive Difference

MAY 25, 2019

Del Mar, CA … The 23 graduating high school seniors from throughout San Diego are already vigorous leaders, successful entrepreneurs, and academic standouts poised to excel at universities around the country as they pursue scientific, environmental, healthcare, public service, and other careers that will beneficially impact their communities and the world.

Yes, Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s Class of 2019 college scholarship recipients are going places, and Don Diego is delighted to help them arrive!

These 23 winners, who triumphed in a highly competitive year that saw nearly 100 qualified applicants, will share $66,000 in awards. They will be celebrated at Don Diego’s June 15, 2019 Dinner & Smokey Robinson Concert at the San Diego County Fair. Gala details and tickets are at dondiegoscholarship.org.

Scholarships in the categories of FFA, 4-H, Employee, Exhibitor/Participant, Junior Livestock Auction (JLA) and Vocational Education were offered to students who reside in the San Diego area and have participated in the Fair and/or other activities associated with the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The coveted Spanjian Family Scholarship is annually awarded to the single most outstanding applicant of all.

Russell Sorbo of Ramona captured the highest honors, winning the top $5,000 FFA Scholarship plus the $5,000 Spanjian. He will use the total $10,000 award to pursue Goat Dairy Science at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on his way to becoming a veterinarian. Don Diego Chairman Roxana Foxx states, “The selection committee unanimously agreed to award the Spanjian to Russell. We were impressed with his academic and extracurricular qualifications, FFA leadership, multiple Fair-related awards and excellent recommendations.” One teacher praised Russell’s “compassion, industriousness, determination and leadership.” Russell notes, “The Fair has guided me to my career path while helping me gain leadership […]

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Don Diego’s June 15 Gala at the Fair

April 16, 2019

Del Mar, CA … A festive celebration awaits guests at Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s exclusive June 15, 2019 Gala at the San Diego County Fair. Tickets at dondiegoscholarship.org are $275, with a $25 discount to $250 if purchased by June 3, 2019.

Gala-goers enjoy all-day preferred parking, hosted cocktails at 4:30 pm, a delectable farm-to-table small plates dinner and champagne dessert, all culminating in VIP Grandstand seating for legendary performer Smokey Robinson.

In keeping with the Fair’s “Wizard of Oz” theme, the Infield Pavilion will welcome guests to a shimmering emerald evening under the stars. The major stars will be Don Diego’s 2019 college scholarship recipients, who will mingle with San Diego’s finest, be presented, and help auction off unique items including a case of Gold Medal wines, Blue Ribbon lamb, and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to be divulged at the event.

Don Diego Chairman Roxana Foxx states, “This year’s Gala is very special as we celebrate topping one million dollars in scholarship support to incredible students over the years. The event gives us an opportunity to thank our generous donors and to kick-start efforts to raise our second million. We have many surprises in store and encourage people to buy tickets before the event sells out.”

Don Diego Featured on KOCT’s March “Oceanside Spectrum”

March 2, 2019

Del Mar, CA … First up on KOCT’s March 2019 “Oceanside Spectrum” show is Don Diego Scholarship Foundation!

The lively feature, which airs throughout March on TV and on-demand at www.koct.org, highlights Don Diego’s 2019 scholarship program offering 28 college scholarships totaling $66,000 to students who reside in the San Diego area and have participated in the Fair or other activities associated with the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Oceanside Spectrum host Kellie Davis interviews Don Diego Executive Director Chana Mannen and 2018 Employee category recipient Victoria Navarro. Victoria began her multiple-year Fairgrounds tenure at age 14 picking up trash at the Fair. She relates, “I learned a good work ethic, earned money and made many friends.” Victoria currently attends Palomar College on her way to majoring in Kinesiology at Vanguard University.

“Victoria exemplifies the high caliber of student Don Diego is pleased to support,” says Mannen. “We thank KOCT for showcasing our scholarship program and encourage college-bound students to check out guidelines and apply before the March 18, 2019 deadline at dondiegoscholarship.org.”

The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation was named for Don Diego, AKA Tom Hernandez, who served as the Fair’s welcoming goodwill ambassador from 1947-1984.
To date since its inception in 1986, the Foundation has awarded nearly $975,000 in scholarships to 232 students and in agriculture education grants. More information is at dondiegoscholarship.org and facebook.com/DonDiegoScholarship.

Help Kids Enjoy a Growing Adventure at the Fair!

February 20, 2019

Del Mar, CA … Plant the seeds for a lifetime appreciation of farm-fresh healthy nutrition by donating to Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s Plant*Grow*Eat (PGE) transportation program. You’ll get free publicity, VIP parking and admission to the 2019 San Diego County Fair on “your” day plus the delight of sharing an exciting growth experience with eager elementary students.

To advance the Fair’s PGE agricultural education program, Don Diego sponsors buses that bring students from Title I schools to the Fair’s Infield Farm. They showcase their carefully nurtured produce, receive a ribbon for their efforts, then scamper off to explore farm exhibits and even pet an animal or two!

Whether they grow a fat, red radish as big as a tomato or a teeny, tiny tomato no larger than a radish, the children are justifiably proud of their efforts. Last year, Perkins Elementary second-grader Romeo confided, “I don’t like radishes when we get them from the store. But when I eat the one I grew, it tasted good!” Special Education student Kevin could not stop smiling when he won a blue ribbon. Showing his PGE savvy, Kevin reported, “I planted this. I grew this. And now, I will eat it!”

Bus sponsors have as much fun as the children whose agriculture adventure they make possible. In 2018, Del Mar Foundation’s Ira Sharp noted, “The judges take the time to praise each child. I love checking out their veggies and seeing the pure joy.”

SDG&E’s Morgan Justice-Black and Addie Woodard said, “Our donation is very well-spent. It’s so cool to know that children are learning where their food comes from.”

Don Diego Executive Director Chana Mannen, who as former Deputy Manager of the […]

Don Diego Offers $66,000 in College Scholarships to 28 Outstanding San Diego Area Students

January 14, 2019

Application Deadline is 3/18/19

The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation is offering $66,000 in 2019 college scholarships to 28 outstanding students who reside in the San Diego area and have participated in the San Diego County Fair and/or other activities associated with the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Scholarships are offered in six categories. Individual awards range from $1,000 to $5,000. The deadline to apply is March 18, 2019. Eligibility details and applications are at dondiegoscholarship.org. For questions, contact cmannen@sdfair.com.

Finalist interviews will be held in April. Recipients will be honored at the Don Diego Dinner and Concert Gala taking place on June 15, 2019 at the San Diego County Fair. Each recipient will receive a personalized Legacy Brick installed at the Fairgrounds. They also will have an opportunity to reapply for a scholarship in subsequent years.

Scholarship Breakdown

  • Scholarships of $5,000, $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000 will be awarded in each of four categories: 4-H, FFA, Employee and Exhibitor/Participant.
  • One $5,000, one $2,500, one $1,500 and seven $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to participants in the Fair’s Junior Livestock Auction.
  • Two 2,500 Vocational Education scholarships will be awarded to students intending to pursue an AA/AS degree or certificate at a community college or accredited trade school.
  • The coveted $5,000 Spanjian Family Scholarship will be bestowed upon the most outstanding recipient.

According to Executive Director Chana Mannen, “Don Diego achieves an impressive milestone in 2019. With this year’s scholarships, our total monetary awards will top one million dollars! We thank our generous donors, who over the years have enabled us to support future leaders of our community. Our Board is ambitiously initiating new programs that will put us on the path to raising our second million.”

Don Diego Believes Future Leaders are Worth a Million

November 8, 2018

Del Mar, CA… The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation believes future leaders are worth a million! To date, the Foundation has awarded nearly one million dollars in college scholarships to outstanding students throughout the San Diego area who have excelled in academics, given back to their community and participated in the San Diego County Fair and/or other activities associated with the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Qualifying high school seniors may have participated in an organization such as FFA or 4-H; showing or auctioning animals at the Fair. Students also are eligible if they have worked at the Fair or Fairgrounds, or exhibited or performed at the Fair.

The highly competitive, annual application process begins in January. Recipients are selected in the spring and feted at a summer Gala. Scholarships support students pursing a Bachelor’s Degree as well as an AA Degree or related vocational certificate.

Eligibility guidelines are at dondiegoscholarship.org/scholarships.
Achievements of Don Diego Scholars are at facebook.com/dondiegoscholarship.

Executive Director Chana Mannen states, “We encourage high school seniors to ascertain their eligibility and urge juniors to get involved in an activity that qualifies them for scholarships ranging from $1,000-$10,000. Past scholarships have propelled outstanding students to prestigious universities around the county.”

Some, such as 2014 top recipient Carolyn Kravitz, who graduated from Stanford this spring and is now pursuing a PhD at Yale, are ambitiously embarking on advanced degrees and exciting careers. A 2017 scholarship took Jessica Xu to MIT. She spent Summer 2018 in Singapore through a undergraduate research fellowship, in which she worked on streamlining a microfluidics method to analyze cancer cell clusters.

Mannen asks, “Where might a Don Diego scholarship take you?”

The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation was named for […]

Fall into Free Days at the Races

October 20, 2018

Del Mar, CA… Your best bet for a winning fall season at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club horse races starts with a Don Diego Amigo Club membership.

For just $99 ($150 for two), the Amigo Club provides free admission to each day of the November 9-December 2 fall racemeet, plus every day of the 2019 San Diego County Fair, every day of the 2019 summer racemeet, four single-day passes to Surfside Raceplace and one single admission to The Scream Zone and Pelly’s Miniature Golf.

This $500 retail value membership offers one full year of Del Mar Fairgrounds fun, with activation beginning on your day of purchase at dondiegoscholarship.org.

The world-famous Del Mar track dmtc.com has showcased iconic horses such as Zenyatta and California Chrome. On certain racedays, it rocks out as a destination venue for free concerts and other entertainment attractions included with admission.

Visitors entering the gates can discover the Don Diego Fountain sporting hundreds of Legacy Bricks commemorating winning bets at the track, memorable moments at the Fair, and fun family times at the Fairgrounds. These customized bricks, which can be purchased on the Don Diego website for $150, make a memorable holiday gift.

Both Amigo Club and Legacy Brick proceeds benefit the Foundation’s ongoing educational programs. Since its inception in 1986, the Foundation has awarded nearly one million dollars in college scholarships and agriculture education grants.

Don Diego Helps Vista High Students Pursue Goals

September 25, 2018

Del Mar, CA… The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation believes future leaders are worth a million! To date, we’ve awarded nearly one million dollars in college scholarships to outstanding students throughout the San Diego area who have excelled in academics, given back to their community and participated in the San Diego County Fair and/or other activities associated with the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Qualifying high school seniors may have participated in an organization such as FFA or 4-H; showing or auctioning animals at the Fair. Students also are eligible if they have worked at the Fair or Fairgrounds, or if they’ve exhibited or performed at the Fair.

The highly competitive, annual Don Diego application process begins each January. Recipients are selected in the spring and feted at an annual Gala in the summer. Scholarships support students pursing a Bachelor’s Degree as well as an AA Degree or related vocational certificate.

Eligibility guidelines are online now. We encourage high school seniors to ascertain their eligibility and urge juniors to get involved in an activity that qualifies them for scholarships ranging from $1,000-$10,000. Be prepared – do it now!

Over the years, several Vista High students have earned Don Diego scholarships. These include 2015 recipient Amy Wehner and 2016’s top $10,000 winner, Yessica Vargas. Victoria Navarro, a 2018 Panther grad, is currently a first-generation college student on track to attain a degree in Psychology, supported by a Don Diego scholarship.

WHERE MIGHT A DON DIEGO SCHOLARSHIP TAKE YOU?

Don Diego Scholars are Propelled to Excel

August 30, 2018

Del Mar, CA… This fall, 30 outstanding students from around San Diego County are embarking on ambitious educational endeavors at highly regarded universities throughout the country, supported by Don Diego Scholarship Foundation scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. In 2018, the Foundation awarded a record $72,500 in college scholarships to students who participated in the San Diego County Fair and/or other activities associated with the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Olivia Jarvis arrived at the University of Hawaii in Hilo in August eager to begin her Marine Science studies — only to be greeted by Hurricane Lane. Buoyant despite days of non-stop rain, delayed classes and confinement to her dorm, Olivia has joined the cross country team and is ready to have a “Hilo” of a great experience at college.

Top $10,000 Scholar Gigi Manasan was equally undeterred from pursuing her Math major at Creighton University in Nebraska despite being sidelined in the hospital for the first few days by a health issue. Having dealt with serious chronic conditions throughout her young life, Gigi is moving forward with her usual aplomb, including fulfilling the Crieighton tradition of touching Billy the Bluejay’s beak.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where many Don Diego scholarship recipients have matriculated, welcomes Hailey Baldwin, Tori Pedersen and Megan Clodfelter. Sister school Cal Poly Pomona is the happy home for Elizabeth Melott and Hiram Olivarria.

Some 2018 Scholars are attending local schools such as Miramar Community College, Palomar College, San Diego State and San Bernardino State. Others are venturing to UC campuses and farther afield.

Marilyn Long jumped into the swim of things at Kansas State University; joining a sorority and diving into a rigorous curriculum that will culminate […]

SDG&E Donates $5,000 To Don Diego’s Bus Program

July 29, 2018

Del Mar, CA… The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation has received a generous $5,000 SDG&E Environmental Champions Grant earmarked for the Foundation’s Plant*Grow*Eat (PGE) Bus Transportation Program that enables elementary students from Title I schools to bring their home-grown produce to the annual San Diego County Fair.

Don Diego Executive Director Chana Mannen states, “We are so pleased to be a multi-year recipient of this highly competitive SDG&E grant. By funding buses for San Diego County schools that otherwise could not transport students, the grant enables thousands of eager young children to learn about agriculture and nutrition in a fun, hands-on way. Kids grow their edible plants, bring them to the Fair for judging, then visit agriculture-related exhibits, pet animals, and, for some, enjoy their first glimpse of the ocean. It’s a memorable experience for them, and for all of us involved.”

In announcing the grant’s approval, SDG&E Community Relations Manager Morgan Justice Black told Don Diego, “We believe in the great work that you do: educating the next generation of environmental stewards and integrating climate science into your efforts. We look forward to another year of partnership!”

During the 2018 Fair, Morgan Justice Black and SDG&E Public Affairs Manager Addie Woodard met with some of the many students whose buses they sponsored. They reported, “We enjoy seeing our money in action. Our donation is very well-spent. It’s so cool to know that children are learning where their food comes from.”

SDG&E’s Environmental Championship Initiative supports 501(c)3 non-profit organizations whose programs work to improve our local environment in San Diego County and southern Orange County. For more information, visit https://www.sdge.com/environmental-champions-initiative.

Don Diego offers Plant*Grow*Eat donors many perks, including publicity, an […]