(March 12, WEB EXCLUSIVE) The California Table Grape Commission is making nearly $50,000 in college scholarships available.

The Fresno, Calif.-based commission is accepting applications for the 2009 California Table Grape Workers Scholarship program. Three $16,000 scholarships to any four-year California college or university will be awarded to table grape farmworkers and their immediate families.

“During the past 25 years, California’s table grape industry has been involved in a variety of community service activities through the commission: mini-grants for schools, books for after-school programs in rural communities and inner cities, and this scholarship program among many others,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the table grape commission. “The primary criterion has always been to make a meaningful difference.”

The commission began offering the college scholarships in 1985. Since then, it has awarded nearly $1 million in scholarships to help more than 85 students work toward college degrees, Nave said.

The deadline for this year’s scholarship applications is March 20. Applicants must be 2009 graduating high school seniors, or high school graduates who want to continue their educations. To be eligible, applicants must be farmworkers employed in the current or previous California table grape harvest or children of farmworkers.

“This scholarship program is a terrific example of making a meaningful difference in the lives of the individual students, their families, and their communities,” Nave said. “It is a program the industry is proud to continue.”

Applications are available from table grape grower-shippers and high school counselors. Applications also may be downloaded from the commission’s Web site, www.grapesfromcalifornia.com.