Julia I. Lopez, College Futures Foundation

TITLE: President and CEO

FUNDING AREAS: College access

CONTACT: 415-287-1800

IP TAKE: Lopez is passionate about economic security and equality, which inform her work at the College Futures Foundation. She's looking for social entrepreneurs to help expand college access across the Golden State.

PROFILE: When Julia I. Lopez was offered the position of president and CEO of the College Futures Foundation in 2008, she saw it as an opportunity to work on two issues she cares deeply about: economic security and equality. Extending college access to historically underserved groups represented a way to foster equality and empower these groups.

Lopez is so passionate about these issues that she came out of retirement to accept the position.

The College Futures Foundation gives grants to non-profit organizations across the Golden State. Many of these organizations provide scholarships to underprivileged students. Lopez sees community groups as key drivers in the expansion of college access in California. When the foundation funds these groups, rather than institutions of higher education themselves, Lopez told the Hispanics in Philanthropy website, students become the drivers of their college choices. These groups' missions involve helping students get into college, and by funding non-profit organizations, College Futures gives students a choice in where they go to school before they get to a campus.

Organizations seeking funding from the College Futures Foundation should bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the mission of making college more accessible and affordable to California youth. Lopez believes that entrepreneurship is not limited to the private sector and that social entrepreneurs have the potential to make lasting changes.

Lopez and the foundation also encourage renewal scholarships. Students who receive a scholarship from a foundation-funded nonprofit for their first year of college can return to the organization and receive an additional scholarship. This keeps students in touch with the organizations, which in turn can account for the success of the students they support.

A native of Colombia who came to the United States at the age of 14, Lopez brings a long resume of government and philanthropic work to her position. After completing a degree in political science, she worked in state government in New Mexico before moving to California. Lopez earned a master's degree in public policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at Berkeley, then worked for the California State Legislative Analyst's Office and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. She later headed the San Francisco Department of Social Services.

After years in state and local government, Lopez entered philanthropy, working for The Rockefeller Foundation in New York. She oversaw U.S. programs on economic security, education, and urban poverty.