SMC — Santa Monica College has been awarded a grant of $48,000 per year for three years to establish SMC’s Guardian Scholars Program, an initiative to steer foster youth toward college, officials announced this week.

Students wave to their family members and friends as they walk to the Santa Monica College 2011 graduation ceremony at the Corsair Field. (File photo)

Students wave to their family members and friends as they walk to the Santa Monica College 2011 graduation ceremony at the Corsair Field. (File photo)

SMC will partner with UCLA and Loyola Marymount University, in conjunction with the California College Pathways Initiative.

“Bridging the gap for tomorrow’s leaders” is the theme for the program, which aims to expand community support and college and career pathways for foster youth, who face significant challenges in pursuing a higher education and earning a college degree.

The award is part of a three-year implementation grant that provides $150,000 annually to the initiative. The first year of the initiative is funded by the Angell Foundation in partnership with the Stuart Foundation.

“We are very excited to be given this wonderful opportunity to help foster youth build their self-awareness and confidence in their academic journey,” said SMC Guardian Scholars Program Coordinator Debra Joseph-Locke. “Through this program, we hope to provide access to a variety of services, including targeted academic, transfer, career, and personal counseling, along with tutoring and other educational support.”

Financial aid assistance, assistance with housing, and an emergency fund will also be available through the program, along with access to online, community-based resources and referrals.

“This collaborative effort is a pilot endeavor that we hope will succeed and become a model for similar projects in other locations,” said Michael Tuitasi, SMC vice president of Student Affairs. “SMC’s Guardian Scholars Program will also offer the added benefit of strong communication among the three campuses, which will greatly assist students transferring between schools.”

 

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