A population often not spoken of, foster youth may not have access to a higher education once they have aged out of foster care.
Mary Graham Children’s Foundation (MGCF) is a non-profit organization with a mission to help foster youth takes steps towards adulthood as well as receiving a higher education.
MGCF started in 2001 and currently has 21 board members and more than 50 volunteers.
Since 2001 the foundation has awarded youth with more than $1 million in scholarships for students going to colleges such as San Joaquin Delta College, University of the Pacific or CSU Stanislaus to name a few.
“[The foundation] encourages the youth to get a higher education,” said Amber Saunders, Executive Director of (MGCF).
MGCF’s mission is to “provide support that rebuilds hope and strengthens our youths skill and education to successfully move from childcare to life on their own,” as stated in their mission statement on their website.
The foundation has a had a large presence in Stockton according to Saunders.
“This year there has been 36 youth awarded…and each recipient of a scholarship is also assigned a mentor,” continued Saunders.
Delta College also provides support for foster youth with the Foster Youth Support and Education Program here on campus.
The support programs work with the County Office of Education and the Human Services Agency.
“We try and figure out what the students needs … to try to support different areas because everyone who walks in that door has different things that they are going through, ” said Marylou Baugus-Hansen, acting manager of the Foster Youth Support and Education Program.
The foundation explains foster students are in need of this support even while transitioning into adulthood.
“This is a safe place place for us, if we need to do our work, hang out or talk to someone we can talk to the mentors,” said Adrianna Alicie, a Delta foster student.
The Foster Youth Support and Education program is a safe place for these students to seek help.
“Here, they help us go from being taken cared of to being on our own … three years ago I would not be where I am today, working and going to school,” said Joseph Sesate, Foster Youth Mentor at Delta College.
The MGCF doesn’t formally work with the Foster Youth Support and Education Program, “80-85 percent of the students that arrive seeking support have gone through the Mary Graham Children’s Foundation at some point in their lives,” said Baugus-Hansen.
These two programs share a goal of supporting foster students in their academic journeys through adulthood.
“Only about one third of the students who identify come in … We want to tell the students not to be afraid to walk in and get help,” said Baugus-Hansen.
The Foster Youth Support and Education Program is located in Budd 205. To donate to the Mary Graham Children’s Foundation feel free to visitmarygrahamfoundation.org.