As a partner at O’Melveny & Myers, Matt Kline is an accomplished lawyer, but perhaps his most cherished work is as chairperson of the Warren Christopher Scholarship committee. He is humbled by the scholars’ journey to overcome adversity while excelling in school and, in some ways, he can relate to their journey.
“My parents were absent during my last years of high school, but I had mentors who shaped my life and helped me succeed,” Matt says.
Through mentorship and financial support, 250 Christopher scholars, from more than 120 public high schools in Los Angeles, have pursued their college dreams. Nearly all have gone on to four-year universities with more than 90% receiving their degrees.
The scholarship honors former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher who was a partner at O’Melveny. The college scholarship “is awarded to high school sophomores because Chris received a scholarship early in his high school career, and it changed the course of his life,” Matt noted.
The firm did not have experience running scholarship funds, so it turned to the California Community Foundation (CCF). While there are organizations that provide services relating to the disbursement of scholarship funds, Matt and his team wanted a dynamic partnership to make the scholarship most impactful.
CCF offered extensive expertise in administering scholarship funds and facilitating a smooth application process for students. Staff helped create the scholarship guidelines, along with developing the review and scoring process. Additionally, CCF works with each college’s financial aid office to ensure students maximize their awards.
Most recently, CCF helped the fund respond when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Many scholars could not make rent payments, did not have wi-fi access and some had health issues. Matt worked with CCF to create an emergency relief fund to address the scholars’ most urgent needs.
This level of engagement would not be possible without the “deep and sustained commitment of O’Melveny, three generations of the Christopher family, our very committed board and staff, and CCF and LAUSD,” Matt said. LAUSD teachers, counselors and administrators have been critical in identifying scholarship candidates and mentoring those students.
This ongoing partnership makes the Warren Christopher Scholarship fund one of the most cost-efficient and successful scholarship programs of its kind in the country. With wise investments, key donor support, and minimal overhead costs, the program has awarded more than $5 million in scholarships—twice the initial grant.
But scholarship money is just the start. With a range of programs throughout the year, “we have built a robust community,” Matt shares. “Long after graduation our scholars form a network to affect the change that they want to see in Los Angeles.”
CCF CLIENT SERVICES:
· Investment management recommendations
· CCF fund through Charitable Asset Management Partnership (ChAMP)
· Establishing or refining individually tailored giving plans
· Custom research on local, national or international charities
· Meetings with community leaders and visits to charities
· Engaging family members in giving
· Identifying emerging giving opportunities
· Continuing education opportunities
· Access to a team of charitable giving experts