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Virginia Smith Trust Distributes $148K in Grants to High School Students


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Virginia Smith Trust Distributes $148K in Grants to High School Students

Nearly 300 seniors from Merced high schools were awarded $500 grants this week from the Virginia Smith Trust.

The grants were presented by Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, who also serves as the VST Advisor. Among the recipients were students from Merced High School, Golden Valley High School and El Capitan High School. This was the first time students from Merced COE’s Merced Scholars Charter School also received the grant. 

VST grants are awarded to high school seniors who are on track to complete their A-G requirements and have at least a 3.0 GPA. There were 296 students who received the grant, totaling $148,000.

The VST was established in 1975 from the will of Merced-native Virginia Smith, who declared that the land which supported her family for generations be used to provide grants and scholarships to students in the City of Merced.

To be eligible for a VST Scholarship, applicants must have attended a public high school in the city of Merced for a minimum of three years and lived in Merced County during the period of attendance, applied to a four-year public or private institution of higher education in the state of California that is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and have a cumulative high school GPA of 3.0 or higher. 

VST Scholarship applications are due April 2. To apply, visit the VST Scholarship Page at

In accordance with Virginia’s will, the VST currently supports students from high schools in the City of Merced; however, the goal of the VST is to expand support to students countywide by 2026. 

The development of the remaining 654 acres of VST land south of UC Merced will not only help support this expansion, but also sustain scholarships for generations of students. Development will also establish a University Community that will include housing options, parks and other amenities. The development plan has one more action at the City Council level and then will move to LAFCO for final approval. Final approval is anticipated no later than June 2024.

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