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Women’s Education & Leadership Institute

WELI was designed by local women leaders to increase the leadership capacity, workforce skills, college enrollment, and college completion rate of socioeconomically disadvantaged cis and trans women of the Salinas Valley.


The Women’s Education & Leadership Institute (WELI) was founded in early 2011 by community leaders who saw a need to advance the education and economic status of women and families in Monterey County. The WELI program consists of summer leadership training, an on-campus, student-led WELI club, powerful mentorship with community leaders, and a $2,500 financial award per student, making this a life-changing experience.

Since its inception in 2011, the WELI program has graduated more than 250 scholars and granted approximately $500,000 in scholarships.

Program Impact

WELI serves women who are socio-economically disadvantaged. Despite the life challenges that WELI scholars face, they have been able to achieve outstanding outcomes through the support of the program and its members.

    • 94% of students state that WELI helped them achieve their personal, professional, and academic goals.

    • In terms of transfer, WELI scholars transfer at a 62.4% rate overall, versus 45.6% when compared to other female students who are enrolled in at least 12 units with at least a 2.5-grade point average.

    • Demographically, 84% of our current students receive financial aid and 63% are the first in their families to attend college.

Nerina Campos

Nerina Campos

“My mentor’s story inspired me and showed me how to be fearless and to be patient with the process.”

Nerina Campos is a WELI Scholar alumna and studied at the University of California, Berkeley where she majored in Media Studies with a concentration in Policy and Law. Her interest in Media Studies began in her first year at Hartnell College where she learned about interpersonal and intercultural communication’s effects on communities and wanted to know more about the systemic role media systems play on individuals as well as communities. Inspired by this introduction to communication studies, she would eventually go on to intern at a media company in the Bay Area.

When she initially met her mentor, Monica Tovar, President & CEO of TMD Creative, she immediately felt welcomed with open arms. After hearing about Monica’s background and how she has gotten to where she is now, Nerina could see herself in Monica’s story. Nerina aspires to pursue a career in television production or political journalism.

Since its inception in 2011, the WELI program has graduated more than 250 scholars and granted approximately $500,000 in scholarships.

How to Get Involved/Your Impact:

As the statistics show, supporting WELI scholars in their education will help these women become more financially independent and, in turn, pursue a meaningful career. Also of note, the education level of a mother is a strong indicator of the success her daughters and sons will have as adults. Supporting the WELI program through its endowment helps us to provide the four keys to success: resources, education, social support, and mentorship.

Join our annual WELI Soiree!
Become a WELI Mentor
Donate to WELI

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