Campus: San Francisco State University -- December 12, 2005

SFSU Guardian Scholars Program Launched

Foster youth who need special support tackling the challenges of a new and independent life at college get help at SFSU

This semester, SFSU launched a program to help foster youth succeed in college.

The Guardian Scholars Program at SFSU is a unique collaboration between the campus Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and the School of Social Work to help students from foster homes get the support they need to succeed.

The program is based on a pilot study at CSU Fullerton where most of the foster youth who participated either equaled or surpassed their classmates' success. This year, 12 SFSU students are participating in the Guardian Scholars Program. Each receives counseling, tutoring and housing.

When Foster youth in California turn 19, they are no longer a ward of the state, nor eligible for federal support. Approximately 4,300 foster care youth leave the California system every year and each is at risk for unemployment, homelessness, incarceration and a lifetime dependence on government assistance. Only 1.5 percent of all youths who left foster care between 1992 and 2000 received associate degrees at junior colleges and very few of these students transferred to 4-year colleges.

"Our goal is to empower former foster youth to fulfill their potential at SFSU by giving them personal attention, connections and access to all of the services we have and they deserve," said Xochitl Sanchez-Zarama, the pre-collegiate/community partnership program coordinator at EOP [] who co-founded the program at SFSU with Sonja Lenz-Rashid, an assistant professor of social work [].

The program has already received a vote of confidence in the form of funding from local, private foundations, but Lenz-Rashid and Sanchez-Zarama are still looking for additional support so they can make Guardian Scholars a permanent program.Their wish list includes summer housing and Guardian Scholarships for more incoming freshmen.The program costs two to three thousand dollars per student each year.

Contact: Denize Springer, Public Affairs, 415-405-3803,

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