Y.E.S. (Youth Education Scholars) to Higher Education

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1 Y.E.S. (Youth Education Scholars) to Higher Education End of Year Report Sherri L. Brooks, MSW Program Manager Ashley M. Matysiak, MSW Program Coordinator 1 P age

2 Table of Contents Introduction 3 Data Sources Scholar Profile 4 Successes 5 Challenges & Lessons Learned 7 Conclusion & Looking Ahead to References 9 2 P age

3 Introduction It is our pleasure to submit this report recapitulating the year of the YES to Higher Education program. The Youth Education Scholars program was created because foster youth attend and graduate college at rates far below their peers. Former foster youth, as a group, have extremely poor educational and job outcomes. Compared to their peers, foster youth are less likely to complete high school and are less likely to enroll in college (Frerer, Sosenko, Henke, 2013). Approximately 3% of former foster youth will complete a Bachelor s degree, and only about 14% of former foster will earn more than 30 units in community college0f1. By comparison, 57% of all students entering four year colleges obtain a Bachelor's degree within 6 years (Courtney, Dworsky, Lee, & Raap, 2009). Employment outcomes are equally troubling. By age 24, only 52% of former foster youth are employed, compared with 76% of the general population at that age -- and foster youth are much more likely to have jobs that are part time, temporary, and pay minimum wage (Courtney et al., 2009). Our vision is that foster youth in Santa Clara County will attend and succeed in higher education and vocational schools at the same rates as their peers. The objective is to increase opportunities for former foster youth to pursue post-secondary education and to equip them with the tools and support to enter and succeed in school. YES goes beyond the basic scholarship program by connecting scholars to a comprehensive network of support that includes mentorship and academic, financial, and life-skills services. This report will briefly describe the sources for the data that are presented herein and provide: 1.) demographic information describing our scholars, 2.) a general overview of our successes and growth areas, ending with 3.) plans for the year. Data Sources The data supplied for this report is a compilation of self-reported information and documentation from our scholars as well as financial and academic data submitted by the higher education institutions attended by the scholars. Much of the data is gathered from the scholar s YES application, where multiple variables are collected on each student. Additional academic and financial data is compiled throughout the year through scholars and/or their institutions. 1 Walter S. Johnson Foundation, California College Pathways Initiative. Retrieved from website: 3 P age

4 Scholar Profile Total Number of Scholars/Schools: 97/38 Scholar Demographics: Male: 30% Female: 70% African American 30% Asian 5% Caucasian 11% Latino 31% Native American 1% Multiethnic/Other- 21% Ages % Ages % Scholars by Class Level Freshman 30% Sophomore - 33% Junior 24% Senior 13% Top 5 Schools attended by scholars: 1. San Jose State University (San Jose, CA) De Anza College (Cupertino, CA) San Jose City College (San Jose, CA) 9 4. Evergreen Valley College (San Jose, CA) San Francisco State University (San Francisco, CA) 5 5. Mission College (Santa Clara, CA) - 5 Percentage of scholars attending schools in California: 92% Percentage of scholars attending schools in the Bay Area: 78% Percentage of scholars attending schools in Santa Clara County: 61% Scholars by type of school: Vocational - 4% Community College 48.5% University 46% Average Unmet Financial Need of Scholars: Average Unmet Financial Need of Scholars at Community Colleges: $12, Average Unmet Financial Need of Scholars at 4 year institutions: $12, Average Unmet Financial Need of Scholars at Vocational institutions: $6, Average Scholar GPA at University: 2.8 Average Scholar GPA at Community College: 2.2 Percentage of Scholars with Unstable Housing: 57% 4 P age

5 Successes Measurement of program success In , our program served 97 students pursuing higher education. This is a 294% growth from To date, at least 70 YES scholars have received a Bachelor s or Associate s degree, or both. This gives us a graduation rate for foster youth that is 10 times that of the national average and on par with national degree attainment rates for non-foster youth1f2. Quantitative Examples of YES Program Impact YES to Higher Education Multi-Year Outcomes: Metric # of Scholars/Schools 95/35 96/34 97/38 Program retention 71% 71% 72% Freshman year retention (CC/Univ.) 61%/100% 47%/88% 61%/100% Average GPA (combinedcc & Univ.) # of graduates & transfers % accessing full financial aid 98% 92% 100% % matched to a mentor 75% 80% 64% # matched to employment n/a 14 8 Based on the data we have collected from the scholars who participated in YES during the academic year, we met almost all of our goals for the academic year. Seventy two percent (72%) of scholars who were eligible to continue to participate in YES submitted applications to continue in YES for the academic year. o We fell slightly short of our 75% goal for overall program retention rates. Sixty nine percent (69%) of freshman students in the YES program enrolled to return for their sophomore year (100% of all freshman at university and 61% of all freshman at community college). o YES freshman retention rates in 2013 exceeded national averages for general 3 population2f In spring 2013 there were 9 graduates from university, 1 vocational degree earned, and 9 community college students transferred to university. This data lets us know that we are taking the right steps to support our students and keeping them on the path to earn their degree. End of year survey results indicated that 91% of the scholars in the program were pleased or very pleased by the services they received through 2 Only 27.4% of national population has completed a college degree. Retrieved from: 3 Mean community college retention rate is 55.5%. Mean university retention rate is approximately 65-67%. Retrieved from: 5 P age

6 the YES program in the academic year. The YES program is encouraged by these numbers. The program improvements to be implemented in will be able to propel our program to the next level. Qualitative Examples of Successful Intervention by YES Program In addition to these quantitative program metrics, we have also seen great success in our partnership and capacity building projects. One of our major goals in the was to architect and implement a retention initiative for our most at-risk students: 1 st and 2 nd year community college students. This objective was achieved and the program has launched for the academic year. The program is called RISE (Relationships Inspiring Scholar Excellence). In spring 2013, the Silicon Valley Children s Fund entered into partnerships with Evergreen Valley College, De Anza College, Mission College and San Jose City College to provide campus based college coaching services to our scholars on their campuses. Each of these campuses has agreed to provide our college coaches a campus workspace to facilitate intensive academic coaching for our most at-risk YES scholars. In order to operate the expanded case management services to our scholars, we have also extended our partnership with Public Allies of Silicon Valley, an AmeriCorps program. We now have two academic coaches placed to work at our agency through this partnership. The program is officially off the ground and running! Scholar Spotlight: One of the most meaningful ways to gage the impact our scholarship has on the lives of the young people we serve is evidenced through the stories of our youth. As was mentioned previously, in 2013 we had 10 graduates and 9 transfers! One of those graduates was long time scholar Mario. Mario came to the YES program as he was entering San Jose State University. He was like many of our students, not prepared for navigating the bureaucracies of the state university system. Also like many of our students, Mario experienced many ups and downs during his collegiate life and has needed lots of support to make it through. Through his connection to the YES program and the foster youth support program at SJSU, he was able to get the social and financial support he needed to get through college. When he aged out of the county s transitional housing support program, it was only through the advocacy of his YES mentor that he was able to secure stable housing for the remainder of his years at SJSU. The old adage It takes a village to raise a child is so true in the lives of the current and former foster youth we work with. Even our most academically prepared students still have significant life trials that could become permanent barriers to their pursuit of higher education. With the support of the network of people and programs Mario was connected to by SVCF, he has become one of the 3% of foster youth who have earned their degree nationwide! We are proud to report that Mario is now working full-time and living independently. As you can see SVCF is still working hard to support our students to and through college, and even to gainful employment. 6 P age

7 Challenges & Lessons Learned After reflecting on the end of year feedback from our YES scholars, we feel that one of the most significant program challenges we faced was effectively balancing our expansion and collaborative initiatives with the direct services that our scholars need to be successful. Our struggle to sustain the high level of support of students need while also expanding our services is evidenced in our stagnant retention rate (72%) and the high rates of students on academic probation (31%). While students persisted, they were not performing at the academic standards set forth by the YES program. Our goal in 2012 was to increase our overall program retention rate from 71% to 75%. Unfortunately, we were only able to raise the retention rate by one percent. We expect that the stalemate we are experiencing with retention will be resolved with the implementation of the retention initiative we are piloting, Relationships Inspiring Scholar Excellence (RISE), for the current academic year. With more individualized and intensive academic support, our students rates of successful academic progress and desire to continue in the YES program should increase. This more proactive approach should also mitigate the high numbers of students not making adequate academic progress. An ongoing challenge that we have struggled with for many years with the YES program has been our mentoring model. We had a mentor match rate of 64%, and continued to struggle to have productive mentor-mentee relationships. To address this gap in service to our scholars, SVCF entered into a partnership with Child Advocates of Silicon Valley (commonly referred to as CASA). Child Advocates is the local non-profit that trains and matches mentors with youth in-care. One of our goals through this connection is to ensure that our students participating in the extended foster care program (foster care up to the age of 21 years) have access to a highly trained mentor/advocate. To date, YES Staff has trained approximately 50 CASA s on higher education and paired six YES scholars with Child Advocates and matched an additional two YES scholars with volunteer mentors from the community. A more complex challenge that we faced in was our YES Advisory Board model. In 2012 we recruited new board members that comprised current scholars and alumni. Unfortunately, because our current scholars are still struggling with stability on multiple levels, we ended up relying on several alumni as the primary voice informing our decisions and evaluations for programming. Because of the challenges that we faced, there is an imminent need for creating a model that is relevant and keeps the scholars engaged for the entire academic year. This will be a significant area for growth for us in the academic year. The YES program staff is currently working to implement a more feasible and sustainable model for the students and alumni who wish to lend their knowledge and experience to advise SVCF programming. 7 P age

8 Conclusion & Looking Ahead ( ) The academic year resulted in enormous growth for our program. We explored our students needs and increased our understanding of how to better serve our scholars. There are many exciting initiatives and programmatic changes on the horizon that we feel will strengthen our existing program and significantly affect the way we serve our students. With the new partnerships we have forged with community partners to implement RISE and pair our students with trained Child Advocates, SVCF is leveraging our resources and community members to help us move the needle of success forward. We are excited about all that we will learn at the conclusion of the pilot year of RISE and what this program will mean for our students success. SVCF s new initiative and focus on work with opportunity youth (youth who are not connected to employment or education)and investigation into developing non-cognitive skills (academic mindsets, learning strategies, social navigation) for our students, will no doubt yield stronger program models and tools for best practices with foster youth. Everyone at the YES program feels very positive about the direction the program is going and the impact that we are going to have on the lives of the current scholars we serve and those to come in the future. 8 P age

9 References Courtney, M.E., Dworsky, A., Lee, J.S., & Raap, M. (2009). Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth: Outcomes at ages 23 and 24. Chicago: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago Frerer, K., Sosenko, L. D., Henke, R. R. (2013, March) At Greater Risk: California Foster Youth and the Path from High School to College. Retrieved October 27 th from: 5/22/at-greater-risk-california-foster-youth-and-the-path-from-high-school-tocollege 9 P age

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