REALITY CHANGERS transforms lives by providing youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with the academic support, financial assistance, and leadership training to become college graduates.

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On behalf of Reality Changers, the award winners, Mr. Burnham and every organization that contributed to our event, I want to express a heartfelt thank you. We doubled initial fundraising expectations, which will open more doors of opportunities for our city’s youth. Mr. Burnham’s motto of ‘Community Before Self’ was exemplified throughout the evening – but more importantly, the legacy of the first annual Malin Burnham awards will help establish a firm foundation of civic-mindedness and higher education that will help current San Diego students, and generations to come!

Christopher Yanov, Reality Changers Founder and President

Reality Changers’ first annual Malin Burnham Awards recently concluded and the event helped raise $2.6 million toward higher education opportunities for the students we serve.

The Malin Burnham Awards was able to both recognize Mr. Burnham’s considerable contributions to San Diego and also provide substantial scholarship funds for our programs.

We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout, and the Malin Burnham Awards exceeded our expectations. This event showed everybody the goodwill and community-oriented character that makes San Diego such a wonderful place to call home.

The Malin Burnham Awards was held on May 23rd, 2017 at the University of California San Diego’s (UCSD) Price Center Theater in La Jolla, CA.

Mr. Burnham, one of San Diego’s most revered philanthropists, earned distinction at a young age as a competitive sailor. In 1944, he helped the American team, along with San Diego businessman Gerry Driscoll, capture a gold medal at the Star World Championship event at Lake Michigan. Later in life, Mr. Burnham enjoyed a successful run at his family’s firm, Burnham Real Estate Services.

Yet Mr. Burnham’s philanthropy helped solidify his legacy as one of San Diego’s most recognized benefactors. This generous civic spirit inspired us to create and sponsor the recent awards ceremony, which helped support our mission to create more first generation college graduates.

We believe Mr. Burnham is the ideal example of what a philanthropist is. We’re fortunate to enjoy his immense contributions to San Diego, and we’re thrilled the event was able to raise funds for deserving Reality Changers’ students.

Our initial projections aimed to raise at least $1 million. However, a strong turnout and generous contributions from local businesses and charities brought the event’s total awards to $2.6 million.

The funds will help graduating high school seniors with scholarship aid from the San Diego Foundation and also send more than 100 inner-city youth to a UCSD three-week summer residential program, co-sponsored by our program.

The first annual Malin Burnham Awards recognized six public leaders, businesses, service organizations, news outlets, and other area establishments.

The winners were:


Each award was determined by a public vote, and each winner reflects the selfless spirit that the first generation of Reality Changers’ college students can aspire toward.