SBCC program looks to expand college support for foster youth

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MEGAN RANDOLPH, News Editor

City College’s Guardian Scholars program is looking to expand and continue to provide foster youth with a support system for getting through school.

The program recently secured a location on campus and will furnish it with the help of a $5000 grant from the Santa Barbara Foundation.

“I’ve been part of it for a while, ever since I came to City College, and it’s always meant a lot to me actually,” said Guardian Scholar Nathan Escobedo. “It’s a place that I can reflect with other students and talk about similarities that we all have in common.”

The program currently has a total of 27 students, 13 part-time and 14 full-time. They are given access to book grants, scholarships, tutors and the support of other students who have been through foster care.

The scholars take part in events surrounding holidays, like thanksgiving dinner in the Gourmet Dining Room and Christmas dinner with the UCSB Guardian Scholars.

“It’s because most of our kids don’t have a family to go to on thanksgiving,” said Judy Osterhage, foster care education coordinator. “So we provide that sort of thing. And the uniqueness about foster kids too is that they have a tendency to want to be together with their peers, because they have a common background and a point of reference that other kids just don’t.”

The scholars also enjoy volunteering and forming a connection with local foster children to help them think about life after high school.

The program has several goals for 2015, including reaching 50 students. They also want to hire and train peer mentors, like Escobedo, to be available to the scholars.

“Peer mentors works wonders within the EOPS program and it’s been modeled in a number of areas here on campus,” said Marsha Wright, director of extended opportunity programs and services.

Wright also added in a presentation to the Board of Trustees that they hope to gain stable support for the program in order to provide more of the services that the scholars need to succeed and transfer.

“Judy and I are wanting to secure ongoing funding that it’s not a year-to-year situation,” she said. “Permanency and a sense of belonging for the foster youth are crucial, so the unknown is difficult.”

To support the program, readers can visit their Ways to Give webpage.