California State University, Long Beach
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Guardian Scholars Program Awarded $40,000 Grant

Published: February 1, 2016

The Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation has awarded a one-year, $40,000 grant to CSULB to provide funding for CSULB’s Guardian Scholars Program, formerly known as the Educational Opportunity Program’s (EOP) Foster Youth Network.

Interim EOP Director John Hamilton said he has been working on a proposal and communicating with the foundation regularly for more than a year in pursuit of the funding. Awarded through the foundation’s Pritzker Foster Care Initiative, the grant will be used for student scholarships and program operations.

“I sit on the board of the Southern California Foster Youth Consortium and it has really helped me network with other campuses that are working with foster youth. A couple of (consortium board members) told me about the Pritzker Foster Care Initiative and the support it has been providing to similar Guardian Scholars program in the Los Angeles area,” Hamilton explained. “After coming and meeting with me, (Dean of Students) Jeff Klaus and Vice President (Carmen) Taylor and seeing the university’s commitment to foster youth, I think we made an impression on them.”

The EOP Foster Youth Network was created by Hamilton in fall 2012 as a way of helping EOP students who were former or still considered foster youths. A year later, though, he saw the need to reach out and work with all foster youth on campus, not just those in EOP.

“We really never had a program dedicated to foster youth and we wanted to make sure they were getting the services they were eligible for,” Hamilton recalled. “We would try to connect these students who still have open cases with their counties with their social workers and make sure they were still receiving the necessary resources. Those services can be anything from laptop computers, to book grants, to stipends for housing.”

Hamilton noted that there are about 25 to 30 foster youth consistently within EOP, but he estimates that there are about 110 former foster youths enrolled on campus overall. Those foster youths not in EOP self-identify through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid application.

Meetings are held twice a month with these students. The first Thursday of each month is focused on academics or personal development, and the third Thursday of the month is focused on coming together to talk about resources, including a social worker who comes to the campus once or twice a semester to speak to students and assist them with any questions or services they might need.

Over the last decade, the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation has grown to be a major philanthropic presence in Southern California and has played a role in strengthening many of the unique institutions that define Los Angeles. The foundation aims to enrich the local community, not just for the present but for generations to come, with a particular focus on foster care, medicine, higher education, the environment and the arts.

There are close to 28,000 foster youth living in Los Angeles County, which represents about 7 percent of the total foster youth population in the United States. According to the Alliance for Children’s Rights, less than 50 percent of foster youth graduate from high school, and only 3 percent graduate from college. Additionally, of the foster children who have aged out of foster care, 50 percent end up homeless or incarcerated.

–Shayne Schroeder