Guardian Scholars: A Model for Change
California State Bill 967 gives the resources to dependency kids, coming out of the foster care system to get room, board and tuition paid for at institutions of higher learning. We are interviewing these students around California to understand the turning points, people and events that often challenged them and at other times allowed them to not only survive but thrive. Our goal is to find if these positive markers are not only identifiable, but also replicable.
With this information, we will be traveling to another state that supports this same population with emotional support groups, some funds but not the blanket that California provides. We will work with these former foster kids, now in higher education and join forces with social advocates to create a compelling body of stories that can be used to change state legislative priorities and improve funding to the California levels.
With this successful model for change…..we will take this campaign national.
“Growing up was hectic.
I was in the car with my Mom because we were living in the car and I said “I’m sick of it. I don’t want to do this anymore. There more out there for me.” Homelessness was boring. I did have my phone and I would leave the car around five or six am. I would go sleep under a bridge or at a park. It’s kind of quiet. From there I would just wander around, try to find food or entertain myself with my phone. This is Oakland. No one cares. Lae enforcement went past me multiple times at night and for the whole five months. I was just on my own. They didn’t stop for nothing. They just went about their business. They have more pressing matters than a 14 year old teen walking around. Vallejo, Oakland. It’s kind of typical. No one in law enforcement really cared to stop because there is so much homelessness our there. There is nothing you can change. You know that they’re on the streets. I ended up in a group home for about three years. I never had a foster home. I knew I had it in myself. Probably dating back to the 5th grade that’s where I knew I’m meant for something better. I can do more. What followed was a series of unfortunate events that sidetracked me. I see that as my test and I made it past it.
To use tools to get here, U really feel it just matured with me as I went on. There wasn’t a snap or I was enlightened. There have been people around me that supported me and I can’t say I did it on my own. I would say I am responsible for getting myself here. I was already on the right track to make it here. People just saw that I needed a little push. They saw I was bound. They just wanted to help me and support me and be a part of whatever I become. Why wouldn’t you want to surround yourself with greatness? We’re all underdog in my world. They don’t expect anything to happen but when someone does come up from under, everyone is behind that person. What am I missing? Maybe the good it,. The value of the experience. I wouldn’t be who I am without all that. I had to go through all of it to be me. If I didn’t go through all of that who knows…I could be dead, I could be more whitewashed. I just wouldn’t know a lot of the things I know now….so I am grateful. Yes I’m grateful for going through that…”
- Ty Gregg
Incoming freshman UCSB, Guardian Scholars program
“When I turned 18 we were staying with my older brother. Then my twin brother Nathan and I moved to the beach right next to the city college (SBCC). For about six months we went to school and stayed in the back of our truck and then realized what financial aid was. They had a Guardian Scholars there too which helped us.”
- Ethan Escobedo, Age 25
UCSB Guardian Scholar