Striving for Excellence:
02 | A First-in-the-Nation Program for Foster Youth
At age 18, young people in foster care go out on their own, without further support from the government or their foster families. Forty percent become homeless in their first time out. Only 11 percent go on to college.
Fullerton’s Guardian Scholars Program offers some of these youths an opportunity for a college education by providing full five-year scholarships, along with supplementary help including on-campus employment, mentoring and counseling sessions, and assistance finding off-campus jobs in their career field. Students can live on campus year-round rather than risk becoming homeless over vacations.
Founded in 1998, the Guardian Scholars Program was the first of its kind in the nation, setting an example for 19 other universities that have implemented or are developing similar programs. Funding comes from private individuals and foundations, working collaboratively with the university, the Orangewood Children’s Foundation, and public agencies.
The program has exceeded its goal of enrolling 10 students each fall. Actual annual enrollments have ranged from 10 to 15. Students must take a minimum of 12 units of course work each semester and maintain a grade point average of at least 2.5, among other requirements. Graduates have gone on to graduate study or employment in fields including social work, land management, education, advertising and music.
A 2005 graduate, Megan Gornall, sums up her gratitude to the program in these words: “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”