Santa Monica College has announce the new Judge David B. Finkel Social Justice Scholarship. The endowed scholarship was established by the family of the late SMC Trustee, civic leader, and civil rights champion to continue his legacy of providing educational opportunities for SMC students.
“Santa Monica College and the SMC Foundation are honored by the Finkel family’s decision to establish a scholarship fund to honor David Finkel’s legacy,” said SMC Foundation Interim President Lizzy Moore. “This scholarship will help make it possible for many deserving SMC students – those David Finkel championed tirelessly in his lifetime – to move forward in their education.”
Judge Finkel, who died at age 83 on July 4 after a prolonged illness, had a prolific career that spanned six decades of struggles for civil rights, freedom of speech, affordable housing, and educational equality. He was a founding member of Santa Monicans for Renters Rights, a former member of the Santa Monica City Council (where he served a term as Mayor Pro-Tempore), elected to the Santa Monica Municipal Court, and elevated to Superior Court Judge. Retiring from the bench in 2002, he began teaching political science at SMC, focusing on his passion for constitutional law. After being elected to the SMC Board of Trustees in 2006 and 2010 – and serving as Chair in 2010 – he continued to volunteer in the classroom for as long as his health permitted.
“David knew how difficult it was for so many kids to even gain entry to college,” said feminist artist and activist Bruria Finkel of her husband. “And once they were here at SMC, he was really anxious for them to be able to go on to the universities, and to really perform the way they wished. We wanted something tangible to remember him by, and setting up a scholarship seemed like the right thing to do. He wouldn’t be happy that we named the scholarship after him, but it will help those who loved him to honor his memory by carrying on his legacy.”
The City of Santa Monica has provided a matching-funds gift of $10,000. “The City Council honors our colleague David Finkel in a way that reflects his deep commitment to education for all,” said Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown. “Our hope is that these matching funds from the City of Santa Monica will spur even more generous donations to the Judge David B. Finkel Social Justice Scholarship.”
The scholarship will offer annual awards to selected students who are in SMC’s student programs for under-represented students, have a minimum 2.5 GPA, are active volunteers in their community, and need financial assistance to continue their education. AB 540 students – those who are undocumented – are also eligible to apply for the Judge David B. Finkel Social Justice Scholarship.
“No students should be kept from their dream of an education because of a lack of funding, Dad believed,” said Amy Shimshon-Santo, one of the Finkel daughters. “He admired SMC students’ tenacity to succeed in spite of difficult circumstances. He would be happy to see us coming together as a community to support educational opportunity.”
For information on how to contribute to the scholarship fund, please see santamonicacollegefoundation.org/david_finkel or call the Santa Monica College Foundation at (310) 434-4215.
A celebration for Judge Finkel will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30, in The Broad Stage, located at the SMC Performing Arts Center on Santa Monica Boulevard at 11th Street, Santa Monica.