Guardian Scholars Program Celebrates Five Strong Years of Service

Program supports UCR students who have aged out of foster care

Guardian Scholars Logo

Guardian Scholars Logo

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The Guardian Scholars Program, which provides support for emancipated foster youth, is celebrating its five-year anniversary with the “Dreams in Bloom!” event on Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. in the Alumni & Visitors Center. The event is open to the public and will include dinner and dialogue about the program.

The cost to attend is $50 per person, $25 per student. Those interested in attending must RSVP by Wednesday, Oct. 16, with Jan Forrester, director of scholarships and Guardian Scholars Program contact, at (951) 827-5761 or jan.forrester@ucr.edu.

Foster parents in the U.S. receive financial compensation from the government when they take in a foster youth. However, when that youth turns 18, they “age out” or “emancipate” from the foster care system and the government no longer provides compensation to the foster parents.

At this point, the emancipated foster youth is usually abandoned by the foster parents and forced to “couch surf” until they can find a stable home or family, Forrester said. This presents numerous difficulties that they must often face without the financial and emotional support most youth receive from their families.

Established in 2008, the Guardian Scholars Program aids these former foster youth through financial aid, year-round housing, mentoring, counseling, priority registration, employment assistance and the overall benevolence of the program’s steering committee.

Whether it’s helping them get a driver’s license, giving them emergency rides when they’re lost or stranded, or simply lending an ear to their troubles, members of the program’s steering committee and other volunteers help the Guardian Scholars however possible.

“There’s so much that we try to do for them, we’re like pseudo parents,” Forrester said with a smile. “And they’re thriving despite all they’ve been through.”

The program has much to celebrate.

“I think my experience at UCR would be so much more difficult without the Guardian Scholars program,” said Serkadis Krohm, Guardian Scholars alumna (’12). “I would not have had housing during the summer going into my second year. And, who knows, I might have ended up homeless and may not have come back to school. In all, I do not think I would have completed my education if it were not for the Guardian Scholars program.”

Tuppett Yates, Guardian Scholars founder and program director, attributes some of the success of the program to the dedicated steering committee and the resilience of the Guardian Scholars.

“In the fall of 2008, we offered three students a $1,000 annual scholarship and a whole lot of emotional support. Five years later, we now offer 17 students $2,000 annual scholarships, food cards for the holidays, book assistance at the start of each quarter, monthly social activities, personalized mentoring, priority registration and emergency funds,” said Yates.

2013 Guardian Scholar graduates

From left to right: Brandy Taylor, Kassy Peterson and Alyssa Heckman are the 2013 Guardian Scholar graduates.

“We are proud that we have established sustainable growth in our capacity to provide support for emancipated foster youth pursuing higher education at UCR during a period of veritable fiscal crisis in our community and on our campus. This program is a labor of love and our strength and resilience is a testament to that passion.”

To date, eight Guardian Scholars have graduated from UCR and are pursuing advanced degrees in social work, education and law, or working full time as entrepreneurs and professionals in the community.

“We truly have a lot to celebrate, a lot of successes and accomplishments that couldn’t have been done without support from the university and from donors,” Forrester said.

Yates, an associate professor of psychology, feels a strong sense of kinship with the Guardian Scholars and has big goals for the program’s continued growth.

“Although I had access to many resources that our typical Guardian Scholar does not, I know how hard it is to face college alone. My own experiences fuel my long-standing clinical and research interest in fostering resilience among children, youth and adults,” she said. “In five more years, I hope to serve 30+ enrolled students with an increased level of financial support while continuing to offer the safety, stability and warmth that characterizes our current program.”

The Guardian Scholars Program is funded through gifts from individuals, foundations and corporations. The easiest way to support the program financially is to donate directly to the Guardian Scholars website.

To donate, visit www.advancementservices.ucr.edu/Givingform.aspx and under the “Designate to a specific fund” drop-down menu, select “Guardian Scholars Foster Youth Fund.”

If donating by check, make checks payable to the UCR Guardian Scholars Fund and mail them to:

Jan Forrester
Scholarship, Fellowship, & Annual Giving
900 University Avenue
1100 Hinderaker Hall
Riverside, CA 92521

Additionally, interested donors can donate to the program by shopping at Ralphs, wherein a percentage of enrolled members’ purchases will go toward the UCR Guardian Scholars program.

For more information about the Guardian Scholars program, visit www.guardianscholars.ucr.edu.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-6049
E-mail: konrad.nagy@ucr.edu

Additional Contacts

Jan Forrester
Tel: (951) 827-5761
E-mail: jan.forrester@ucr.edu

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