Pay It Forward

What We Do

The Pay It Forward Scholarship & Mentoring Program is a support & accountability program that ensures first-generation college students succeed. The program provides scholarship awards, life skills, mentoring, and accountability structures that increase graduation and career placement success.

The Pay It Forward Scholarship and Mentoring Program provides a $20,000 four-year scholarship at California State University, Monterey Bay, to local Monterey County, first-generation college students through private funds. Each scholar is mentored by a community leader who helps the student navigate the challenges of college life. In turn, the scholars must maintain a four-year graduation track and a 2.5 GPA. The scholars “Pay It Forward” by mentoring a First Tee — Monterey County participant, creating a cycle of local college students who are contributing to the community even as they study.

Since the program’s inception in 2008, a total of 3.4 million dollars in scholarships have been distributed with an additional $850,000 raised for future distribution to current students. 

The nomination period is now open and will close Friday, December 8, 2023 by 5:00pm.

Our Program


  • College Opportunity for First-Generation Students at CSUMB
  • Student Mentoring, Accountability
  • Framework & Monitoring
  • Life Skills Training & Career Advising
  • Paying It Forward by Providing Tutoring & Mentoring to Younger Students


  • Over 200 Scholarships Provided Since 2008
  • Graduation Rates of More Than Five Times Their First-Gen Peers
  • Skills in Budgeting, Credit-Building, Networking, Public Speaking, Self-Care, & Accessing Resources
  • Over 25,000 Hours of Tutoring & Mentoring Provided Since 2008

Our History

Early 2008, Mike and Linda Dorn, Pay It Forward Scholarship & Mentoring Program (PIF) founders, announced their desire to see a new scholarship and mentoring program at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) to be called “Pay It Forward.” After a series of meetings, they funded the first class of PIF recipients in Fall 2008. Today, the program has grown to serve 202 first-generation CSUMB graduates.

​In 2013, the program formally began its current affiliation with First Tee – Monterey County (FTMC). FTMC and PIF both focus on local youth development and positively impact our local community: It is a perfect match.

​PIF is dedicated to building the local Monterey Bay community by changing one life, one family at a time. The impact of local PIF Graduates from the CSUMB and going back into our Monterey County community will be felt for decades and generations to come.

​The program is funded solely by private funds donated generously from individuals and private foundations. Since the PIF establishment, every dollar donated to the program has gone to scholarships. Through a 2013 partnership agreement with the University Corporation, the foundation arm of CSUMB, the administrative costs have been covered by non-gifted funds.

​The PIF watchwords – Commitment, Accountability, Excellence, and Graciousness – are built into the program itself and instilled into the Scholars throughout their four years as they maintain their commitments to the program and the First Tee – Monterey County participants they mentor.

A Letter from Our Founders

Early in 2008, after several meetings on the CSUMB campus, it became apparent that there is a need for a program to assist some of the many students from area high schools who are the first generation in their families to attend college. This program would provide scholarship funds and mentors, with the mentors being the heart of the program. We wanted to “pay it forward” and wanted the students involved to learn how to “pay it forward.” As a result, we conceived of the Pay It Forward Scholarship and Mentoring Program at CSUMB. Not only was the program to provide four-year scholarships totaling $20,000 to each student, but it was also designed to pair each student with a mentor for the four years, AND to require that each student, in turn, mentor a younger student for at least five hours per month, now through The First Tee of Monterey County. The program provides more than academics; it also provides life lessons resulting from a mentor’s relationship.

The program’s growth and the number of students it can serve are limited only by the funds available each year for new scholarships. Watching the students mature over their four-year careers in the program is a gift to us. Please join us. You will be giving a gift to them, but also yourself. Together, we can make a difference and change the lives of some students, their families, and their communities.

– Mike and Linda Dorn, Founders of the Pay It Forward Scholarship and Mentoring Program


Our scholarship recipients are CSUMB students who are graduates of local high schools and have at least a five-year connection to the area. Each must be among the first generation in their family to have attended college. Each must also be a legal resident of the United States and nominated by a school counselor or other adult who knows the student well.

The students nominated and selected to apply for a scholarship are screened and interviewed by a selection committee comprised of program mentors: This committee chooses a cohort of new recipients based on new scholarships funds each year.


Each Pay It Forward Scholar is mentored by a community leader throughout their college years. Our mentors often come to us through the recommendations of past or current mentors.

The role of our mentors is to help empower and guide. Each scholar meets with their assigned mentor at least once per month to gain inspiration and practical advice. Mentors help their scholars learn how to manage time, set priorities, navigate the new world of the university, and access resources to help them succeed. These relationships yield lifelong dividends for both scholar and mentor.

Are you interested in becoming a mentor? Click here.


The program has provided over 200 scholarships and scholars have provided over 25,000 hours of tutoring and mentoring. since 2008. Graduation rates are more than five times their first-generation peers. The scholars are taught skills like budgeting, credit-building, networking, public speaking, self-care, and accessing resources.

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