Celebrating the Success of Former Foster Youth
In honor of National Foster Care Month this May, we’re highlighting the champions that help build safe, accessible and joyful spaces on campus for foster youth. Few embody these values more than Los Angeles Trade Tech’s Dr. Dione Washington. For over 20 years, Dr. Washington has supported and advocated for students at this community and technical college through the Guardian Scholars program.
She shared, “When I first started my basic needs programs, I was copying other campus models but I’ve learned there is no cookie cutter way. You have to tailor to your students. Once we did that, amazing things started happening.” Just last month, Swipe Out Hunger presented LA Trade Tech’s Guardian Scholars program with a $3,000 microgrant to help kickstart their food pantry. Student leaders play a key role in managing the center and leading the community building.
Making sure foster youth nationwide have the resources they need to thrive is crucial to supporting them in their future. With the additional barriers foster youth face, colleges must invest in structures to meet their needs. Nationally, 62% of students who have been in foster care reported food insecurity according to the Hope Center. This is especially important as only 3% graduate from college according to the National Foster Youth Institute. With the right resources, students from a foster care background can finish college with the skills and tools to succeed.
LA Trade Tech has created that space for students like Sandra (left), a former foster youth who became the first of eight siblings to graduate and took one step closer to fulfilling her dream of opening her own restaurant. Like Sandra, Daniel (right) had a transformative experience at LA Trade Tech and shared, “It took a long time to go back to school because I’ve always felt like a failure. I felt like I couldn’t do it. Now I’m 24 and I got into college, it’s my second semester, and it feels really good — I love going to school, it helps me deal with the inner demons I face.”
Swipe Out Hunger is a proud partner of the Anthony & Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation, John Burton Advocates for Youth, the Pritzker Foster Care Initiative and many campus Guardian Scholars programs which aim to raise awareness around former foster youth and ensure they have the support they need to succeed in their education and career.