Delta’s Empowerment Resource Programs continues, expands work of Foster Youth office


Several student-serving programs, including the Foster Youth office, have merged to become the Empowerment Resource Programs, reflecting the expanding functions of the department. 

“We still support foster youth and in addition, we support students who were formerly incarcerated and students who are unhoused/housing insecure,” said Dr. Ricky Gutierrez-Maldonado, Acting Manager of the Empowerment Resource Programs and Pride.

Located on campus in Budd 205, the program gives not only Delta College students but youths in Stockton the resources and power to gain more knowledge and skills to make an impact in their lives and their community.

“In the programs that are for currently enrolled Delta students we have about 150 students. We do also run programs out of our department, but they do not have to be enrolled in Delta College students,” said Gutierrez-Maldonado.

For students, the department supports current or former foster youth through the Guardian Scholars Program, youths who were formerly incarcerated through the Phoenix Project and youths who are unhoused/experiencing housing insecurity through the Rising Scholars Program. 

All these programs are designed to make sure the students are succeeding academically, socially, and emotionally.

“Whenever we don’t have class, we come here to use the computer. It is a safe and very relaxing place. The mentors  make sure we finish our homework and they help us with whatever we need,” said Sharon Spurge-Petersen, one of the students who are currently in the Guardian Scholars Program. 

The programs provide services and support such as textbook lending library, bus passes or parking permit, free hygiene products, free second-hand items, free lunches, computer access and printing and student lounge space. 

In addition, the programs also coordinate support for issues involving housing insecurity, food insecurity, transportation barriers, financial emergencies, employment, mental health and wellness, physical health and wellness, financial aid and registration. It creates a very warm and homey environment. The mentors, the guardians from the programs and the youths have a very close relationship.

“She is like my aunt. No, she is my aunt,” Spurge- Petersen said, pointing at one of her guardians from the program. 

The Empowerment Resource Programs partners with California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and the San Joaquin County Human Services Agency to provide support for potential and current resource parents and current foster youth. The two programs that the department is currently working with are the Foster and Kinship Care Education Program (FKCE) and the Independent Living Program (ILP).

The Guardian Scholars program is designed to help improve the education outcomes for current and former foster youth. Eligibility requires either the Ward of the Court Verification Letter or a letter from the foster youth liaison at the school district.

“The program helped me do good in class. I am in two Child Development classes and after this, I want to transfer to Stanislaus State, and I want to be a special needs teacher,” Merissa Robinson said when asked how the program is working out for her and what her plan is after finishing the program. 

The Phoenix Project provides support for students who were formerly incarcerated such as those on felony probation, parole or AB 109 diversion. Eligibility requires either documentation of release from prison or an email/ signed letter from a parole/ probation officer.

The Rising Scholars offer support for those who lack a fixed, adequate, and regular nighttime residence. Eligibility requires one of these documents: A letter/email from the homeless liaison at the school district, a letter/email from a shelter or church, a letter/email from a caseworker/ social worker, a letter/email from an agency supporting unhoused people.

The Foster and Kinship Care Education Program (FKCE) is a state-wide program funded by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. FKCE is dedicated to providing education and training to potential and existing resource guardians/parents to strengthen the quality of family foster care and adoption services. Classes are help from Monday through Friday

The Independent Living Program (ILP) supports 16-20-year-old foster youth. Classes are held every Tuesday from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm at Delta College in Budd207 with a complimentary dinner. ILP helps youths learn the skills ranging from college admission and financial management, to everyday skills.

For more information, please visit Budd 205, San Joaquin Delta College or visit their Facebook page at Empowerment Resource Programs.