The Berkeley Hope Scholars program (formerly the Cal Independent Scholars Network) is the academic focused retention program at Berkeley that provides support and resources to incoming freshman, transfer and continuing students who are current/former foster youth or orphaned, and certified independent by the Office of Financial Aid.  We are committed to each BHS student  from the time they enter Cal to provide all encompassing services to ensure they graduate from the University. Through individualized referrals to campus and community service partners, BHS supports each student in achieving academic excellence and reaching educational, personal and career goals.


  • Provide access to academic and personal support resources to students to ensure successful matriculation and graduation from the University;
  • Facilitate academic enrichment and career opportunities for BHS students;
  • Offer supplemental financial support to assist students with unmet needs;
  • Advance “paying it forward” by requiring students to participate in community service;
  • Promote self-advocacy and life skills; and
  • Create a safe and trusting community space for BHS students.


Welcome Event:  New scholars are invited to attend a welcome reception introducing them to the BHS community at the beginning of Fall semester

End of the Year Celebration – BHS community celebrationto honor graduating class in May

Primary Student Support and Resource Facilitator:  Deborah Lowe Martinez, J.D., Child Welfare Attorney, Program Director, Berkeley Hope Scholars program (formerly the Cal Independent Scholars Network). BHS employs a program assistant who helps with administration of the program.

Mentorship: Each incoming BHS student is assigned a mentor. BHS Mentors participate in a mandatory half-day training. Janet G. Sherwood, J.D., a nationally recognized expert in Child Welfare Law, trains mentors on the foster care system. Mentors are Cal staff, alumni and community members.

Academic & Enrichment Workshops:  Personnel from departments throughout the campus facilitate all workshops, such as:  Academic Advising Tools, Graduate School Admissions, Time & Stress Management, Test Preparation & Strategies, FAFSA Workshop, Campus Housing, and Career Center: Determining & Improving Marketable Skills.   In Fall 2014, CISN will offer a Social Welfare 97/197 course entitled, Ensuring Success for Foster Youth in Higher Education.  In an effort to build a community cohort,  all incoming students are required to take this 1 unit course.

Supplemental Financial Aid: The Berkeley Hope Scholars program strives to provide financial assistance to students within the limited resources of the program.  We attempt to identify the students with the most need, and depending on funding, determine the extent to which students will be assisted with supplemental financial aid. Resources include residential hall and apartment furnishings; books and supplies, medical and dental needs, computers/iPads, meal assistance, interim housing and assistance with move-in costs.

Peer Mentorship:  This past year, students continued to bond with fellow BHS students. Students sharing the same major and those taking the same classes were in contact with one another. Each student in the incoming class of 2012-2013, was paired with a continuing BHS student who introduced them to student life on the Berkeley campus. We will continue to pair incoming students with a continuing BHS student as a peer mentor.

Campus Partnerships: BHS has many campus liaisons that comprise the network of resources available to students in the program. BHS has established designated campus contacts in the Financial Aid Office, Admissions Office, Registrars Office, Housing, Career Center, College of Letters and Science, Tang Center, School of Optometry, IST and Berkeley Co-ops. BHS works closely with the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) as all BHS students are eligible for EOP services.  

Quick Facts About Population Served:


Enrollment   Statistics : BHS Students Served to Date                                                                      



Demographics- 58 Students Served AY 2013-2014




Admission Status of BHS Students


Gender of BHS Students




Independent BHS Students





                                                                             Grade Analysis





Graduation Rates


Yearly Retention Rates for Entering Students:

  • Freshmen - 2005-2014:  97%
  • Transfer -  2005-2014:   97%
  • EOP eligibile students - 100%
  • Pell eligible students -   100%