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Bridging the Filipino youth to their big dreams

SM Foundation opens college scholarship to this year’s batch of high school graduates

One of the most valuable lessons that the late SM founder Henry “Tatang” Sy, Sr. imparted is to dream big. Dreaming requires little effort, but achieving those dreams requires a great deal of determination and hard work.

This might be challenging, however, for many young people who are hindered by the lack of finances to enroll and attend classes.

Yet, there are still high school graduates who are intent on getting a college degree despite the lack of means, firmly convinced that a degree is their key to get a good-paying job and, eventually, help their families improve their lives.

These are the youth for which “Tatang” opened the SM Scholarship Program in 1993.

Reaching underprivileged yet deserving students for almost three decades, the SM Scholarship Program continues to make an impact on the Filipino youth, like Khyle Aaron Monteban and Edmon P. Laguna who are currently studying as SM scholars.

Mr. Monteban, 20, is taking up BS Computer Science at the University of Immaculate Conception in Davao City. He learned about the SM scholarship program while in senior high school.

“It was at the time when I thought about [how] I could help lessen the financial burden of my parents while being able to go to a prestigious school. So, I searched for programs that I could apply for, and SM was the one that caught my attention the most,” he shared.

As Mr. Laguna, 19, shared, he does not only dream big but dream high as well. After learning about the scholarship from his friends and from searching for scholarships online, he is able to dream further as an SM scholar at Saint Paul School of Professional Studies in Tacloban City taking BS Accountancy.

From L-R (Dominic Bolima, Mark Paul Magallanes, Edmon Laguna and Kyle Aaron Monteban)

For school year 2021-2022, SM Foundation is opening its doors to new scholars as it starts accepting online applications from high school graduates from Jan. 1 to March 20, 2021.

Application is open to Grade 12 public high school graduates from schools in the areas where SM operates businesses. These areas are Metro Manila, Albay, Bataan, Batangas, Benguet, Bulacan, Cagayan, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Cavite, Isabela, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Palawan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Sorsogon, Quezon, Rizal, Tarlac, and Zambales in Luzon; Capiz, Cebu, Iloilo, Leyte, Samar and Negros Occidental in Visayas; and Agusan del Norte, Davao del Sur, Misamis Oriental, South Cotabato, and Zamboanga del Sur in Mindanao.

Grade 12 graduates from private schools are also qualified to apply as long as they finished Grade 10 from public high schools with DepEd vouchers and a general weighted average grade of at least 88% or its equivalent for Grade 12. Only graduates with an annual family income of P150,000 and below are eligible to apply.

Bringing hope
All applications undergo screening by a committee from the SM Foundation Education team. Shortlisted applicants are then visited by the team at their homes.

Mr. Montebon recalled that he kept his finger crossed as he took the admission test and got interviewed. “When I received the e-mail acceptance. I felt so happy! I felt so thankful! I told myself that this is the start of my journey with SM,” he said.

Photo from left: A scholar applicant is interviewed by a member of the scholarship screening committee. Photo from right: A scholar graduate applies for a job during the job fair prior to the presentation of graduates.

SM scholars are given the option to enroll in degrees specializing in computer science, information technology, and engineering courses; accounting and allied business courses; and elementary and secondary education degree programs.

These courses can be pursued in 114 SM partner schools nationwide, 14 of which are in the National Capital Region, 61 in Luzon, 23 in Visayas, and 16 in Mindanao.

SM Foundation scholars with Ling Lansang, OIC of the Education Program

Opening opportunities
Moreover, scholars enjoy full tuition subsidy, monthly allowance, part-time job opportunities at SM stores during semestral and Christmas breaks, activities and enrichment programs like annual recollection, and exclusive job offers with the SM Group of Companies after graduation.

Dominic Bolima and Mark Paul M. Magallanes, SM scholar alumni, recalled how much they enjoyed these additional opportunities.

Mr. Bolima, now a college instructor at the Bicol State College of Applied Science and Technology, considers his part-time work at the SM Department Store — from sales clerk, package counter attendant, to gift wrapping attendant — as one of his best experiences.

“I valued each work assignment which taught me about customer service. I can now apply my learnings in my teaching profession. I am always proud whenever I share these stories with others,” he said.

From working part-time as a utility clerk at The SM Store Magallanes, he was hired during SM’s job fair in 2013 and now works as assistant mall manager at SM Seaside City Cebu.

A moment he cherishes as an SM scholar-graduate is the testimonial dinner, a culminating event that gives scholars the opportunity to meet the Sy family.

“It was an amazing and memorable experience meeting the family who helped me through college, and I was able to thank them personally,” Mr. Magallanes reminisced.

Having produced over 3,000 graduates, the SM college scholarship program is looking forward to lending a hand to another batch of Filipino youth who believe that nothing hinders those who are determined to reach their dreams.

For more information about the SM College Scholarship program, visit and follow its social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube) @SMFoundationInc.


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