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California State University to Honor CSUF’s Guardian Scholars Program on 25th Anniversary of Inspired Program to Assist Former Foster Youth

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Cal State Fullerton’s Guardian Scholars Program, the first of its kind in the nation, will be recognized on Jan. 30 by the California State University Board of Trustees for 25 years of supporting former foster youth on their path to educational and career success.  

The Guardian Scholars Program removes barriers for former foster youth by providing scholarships and a nurturing support system with services that promote belonging and success for students. Since its founding at CSUF in 1998, the Guardian Scholars Program has been replicated at the CSU’s 22 other campuses and 90 colleges and universities nationwide. 

Cal State Fullerton’s transfer scholars have a nearly 80% graduation rate, essentially eliminating the gap between them and the general student population at Cal State Fullerton. Many of CSUF’s Guardian Scholars graduates have gone on to earn master’s degrees and pursue careers in social work, counseling, education and international business. In contrast, 3% to 4% of the nation’s former foster youth obtain a four-year college degree, according to the National Foster Youth Initiative.

“A university’s greatest resource is its people. Put the right people in the right place, and you can change lives forever,” says Becky Wells ‘00, of Lakeway, Texas, the first graduate of the CSUF Guardian Scholars Program. 

We invite you to view the presentation virtually or in person and learn more about this inspiring and transformational program. We also can assist in scheduling interviews with Wells, current CSUF graduate student Junely Merwin ’19 (B.S. human services), and Felipe Martinez, the director of CSUF’s Center for Scholars.

Here are the presentation details: 

What: Recognition for the 25th anniversary of Cal State Fullerton’s Guardian Scholars Program — the first of its kind in the nation to help former foster youth succeed in higher education.

When: Jan. 30, during a 3 p.m. California State University Board of Trustees committee meeting (the presentation is estimated on the agenda at about 3:30 p.m.)

Where: California State University Board of Trustees meeting, 

CSU Office of the Chancellor 
401 Golden Shore Long Beach, CA 90802
Link to the live broadcast of the meeting

Data and details: 

  • More than 250 students have graduated from Cal State Fullerton’s Guardian Scholars Program since it began with three students in 1998 and sparked programs supporting former foster youth at universities and colleges throughout the country, including all 23 CSU campuses.
  • This year, a cohort of 27 — CSUF’s largest group — will graduate in May.
  • The CSUF program also recently expanded its services to graduate students and nine are participating.
  • Students in foster care who enroll in universities deal with such barriers as living expenses, housing, access to technology and lack of guidance navigating the complexities of academia.