Cal Opportunities

Volume 1, Issue 1

  UC Berkeley's faculty established the Cal Opportunity Scholarship (CalOp) in 2000 with the goal of attracting to Berkeley high-achieving students who have overcome challenging socio-economic circumstances. Faculty select candidates from prospective freshmen with financial need who have been admitted to Berkeley from one of the program's partner high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks recently visited Richmond High School, one of CalOp’s partner high schools, where he spoke to a group of aspiring college students as part of a systemwide initiative - Achieve UC, which is designed to help students better prepare for higher education. To read more about this impactful visit, please click here.


De Luca

A Message From...
Anne De Luca
Associate Vice Chancellor for Admissions and Enrollment

CalOp Scholars make a profound impact on our campus community. Their resilience and demonstrated ability to rise above adversity shapes and informs each incoming class of freshmen.

This proven and highly successful program promotes “giving back” by encouraging Scholars to do outreach in local high schools with the support of Berkeley's Center for Educational Partnerships. The Scholars act as important, aspirational role models for the high school students.  With training and support from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the Scholars also help out at college information sessions at various events.

One CalOp Scholar, Oakland High School alum Ada Chao, is in her third year at Berkeley double majoring in psychology and social welfare, and was recently hired to serve as a College Advisor for the East Bay Consortium’s Pre-Collegiate Academy to advise 8th – 12th grade students on how to pursue a higher education.

The CalOp Scholars inspire and motivate me to be a bridge for young people to achieve the dream of getting a college education at a premier research institution, regardless of their economic background. 

CalOp needs the support of far-sighted donors to sustain and grow this worthwhile program and I hope the CalOp Scholars will inspire you, too, to be a bridge for these deserving students. Please consider making a gift today that will allow talented students like Ada pursue their Berkeley dreams. 

Give Now


Duerr BerrickFaculty Mentor
Jill Duerr Berrick, Ph.D.
Chair, Cal Opportunity Subcommittee
Academic Senate Committee on Undergraduate Scholarships Honors and Financial Aid 

Grit, determination, optimism, curiosity. These are the characteristics of our CalOp scholars. They come to Berkeley with wide-eyed wonder about the opportunities that might lie in store for them, at the same time, holding firmly to the communities that have shaped their childhood. When I interview these students the semester before they arrive at Berkeley, their generous spirit is evident. They tell me about the future they intend to build, using Berkeley as their springboard for success. And they speak about the value of giving back to the families who have nurtured their dreams, and to their home communities that need strong minds and powerful advocates. CalOp students bring remarkable academic talents into our Berkeley classrooms. These gifts, combined with their persistence, fresh outlook, and hard work guarantee their success.




Mitzi Iniguez, M.S.
Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
Academic Counselor

I cannot believe I got accepted to Berkeley! But, how can I ever attend, it’s so expensive.

I remember very clearly having that exact conversation with my family, and coming from a low-income community in Oakland, there was no way I was going to put my family under more stress with school expenses.

My decision to attend Berkeley completely changed when I received the Cal Opportunity Scholarship (CalOp). The scholarship relieved me and my family of our concerns and stresses about financing my education and allowed me to focus more on my studies.

As a first-generation college student I felt lost on campus. I was struggling academically and personally. Fortunately, I had Catherine Guzman and Cruz Grimaldo who, with time, became great mentors to me. They taught me how to navigate the campus and also challenged me in different ways to become a leader. After four years at Berkeley, I graduated with a double major and a minor. I have obtained my master's in counseling and currently work as an academic counselor at the Educational Opportunity Program.

I thank the CalOp community for their many contributions to my success. CalOp is more than a scholarship; it’s a program that shaped me into a scholar and leader.




Current Scholar
Andrea Mejia Valencia
Psychology Major, Spring 2015

Just six years ago, I moved from El Salvador to San Francisco and began my freshman year of high school at Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School. I didn’t speak much English, but I knew that I would have to learn it quickly if I wanted to go to college. Learning a new language and adapting to a completely new culture was very difficult for me, but I knew that if I worked hard, I could do it. My hard work paid off when I received my acceptance letter to UC Berkeley along with the Cal Opportunity Scholarship. Attending Berkeley as a first-generation college student has been a life changing experience, and it brings much pride to my mother, to my family and to myself. An opportunity like this does not come often and I feel amazingly blessed and grateful to have received it. The Cal Opportunity Scholarship has given me access to a Berkeley education without the financial pressures that many students have. I have also found a place of belonging through the Cal Opportunity Scholars Association where I am surrounded by fellow scholars who are a great support system to me.




Cal Opportunity Scholarship Partner High Schools

Oakland Unified School District

  • Arise High School
  • BayTech Bay Area Technology School
  • Castlemont High School
  • Envision Academy Arts & Technology
  • Fremont High School
  • Lighthouse Community Charter
  • Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy
  • McClymonds High School
  • Oakland Charter High School
  • Oakland High School
  • Oakland Military Institution College Preparatory
  • Oakland School for the Arts
  • Oakland Technical High School
  • Oakland Unity High School

West Contra Costa Unified School District

  • John F. Kennedy High School
  • Leadership Public School Richmond
  • Richmond High School

San Francisco Unified School District

  • Abraham Lincoln High School
  • Balboa High School
  • City Arts and Technology High School*
  • Galileo Academy
  • Gateway High School*
  • International Studies Academy
  • John O'Connell High School
  • Mission High School
  • Phillip and Sala Burton Academy
  • Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School
  • Thurgood Marshall Academy

Sequoia School District

  • East Palo Alto Academy
  • East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy

Alameda County Office of Education

  • California College Preparatory Academy

* Charter high schools that currently operate independently within school district boundaries