Pasadena City College was notified they are intended to receive part of a grant that divides $15 million among ten schools to help foster youth pay for their educational needs.
The grant, called the Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support Program (shortened as CAFYES), is supported by the Student Services and Special Programs Division of the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.
The grant was established by the California State Senate in 2014 as a necessary means to encourage current and former foster youth to complete their education.
However, the exact amount the college will receive for the grant has yet to be determined.
“It doesn’t mean that each school will get that [$15 million] divided by 10,” said Nancy Roberts, a grants specialist at PCC. “It depends on the services offered and how many students we’re serving, and that’s part of what I imagine will influence negotiation.”
The final approval date for the ten colleges receiving the grant is Nov. 17 and then negotiation of the exact numbers will begin.
In their proposal, Pasadena City College has requested $2,004,896 over three years.
However, while an exact amount is not set, the total, regardless, will be significant.
“They indicated that they will award 3,000 to 5,000 dollars per student,” Roberts said.
The amount of money is rather noteworthy as many foster youth grants are rather modest and this grant would provide a large pillar of support for students to lean on.
“In the past we’ve been able to get these little grants to do activities. Once the funding is over, it’s done.” said Niki Dixon Harrison, the acting director of Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOP&S). “This is institutional; this funding will allow us to institutionalize ongoing support and monitoring of the foster care students here at PCC.”
The grant would change the magnitude of how much PCC can do to assist these students.
Harrison noted that the money would allow them “to implement an actual program to provide ongoing support services, retention strategies, academic support, transfer support, and assistance for them to complete their educational goals.”
In PCC’s proposal, they expect to serve 200 students by the third year.
“As of fall 2015, we have 163 current and former foster youth here at the college,” Harrison said. “Based off of the grant funding requirements, there’s about 100 students that qualify.”
According to the Senate Bill 1023, the student must “be a current or former foster youth in California whose dependency was established or continued by the court on or after the youth’s 16th birthday” and “be no older than 25 years of age at the commencement of any academic year in which he or she participates in the program.”
PCC indicated in their proposal that they intend to pay for books, meal tickets, transportation, caps and gowns, provide some support for those in need of housing, offer childcare assistance and plan events that will ultimately support students in their graduation.
Surrounded by a sea of white papers in her office, Harrison hopes to build a center for the EOP&S and foster care students so that students will have a place to turn that’s not just acramped room in L107.
“They’ll have a home,” Harrison said.