SF State program recognizes students who have defied the odds

SF State’s Guardian Scholars Program recognizes former foster youth

The Guardian Scholars Program at SF State was founded in 2005 and currently has a 70 percent graduation rate.

Guardian Scholars Program gives dedicated support to spur students toward degrees, internships, careers

Twelve former foster youth from San Francisco State University who defied the odds will be recognized on Thursday, April 27, at the Guardian Scholars Program’s Fostering Success Celebration at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco.

The program was founded at SF State in 2005 and aims to meet the academic, social, emotional and financial needs of college students who are transitioning out of the foster care system. College graduation rates nationally for foster youth with no dedicated, personalized support are a dismal 3 to 4 percent. But at SF State, current and emancipated foster youth in the program receive year-round on-campus housing, academic counseling and help with job and internship planning through the program’s Career Leadership Pathways Program.

The program serves more than 100 students each year, 78 percent of whom are students of color and 40 percent are LGBTQ. The program has a 70 percent graduation rate, 20 percent higher than other first-generation college-bound and low-income students at SF State.

“The Guardian Scholars Program continues to be a motivating and enabling force for more than 100 San Francisco State students every year,” said Xochitl Sanchez-Zarama, director and co-founder of the program. “All of our graduates took advantage of opportunities that led to career-focused employment and graduate school in a variety of fields.”

KPIX sports director Dennis O’Donnell (B.A. ’82) will be the master of ceremonies at this year’s event. Former state Sen. Mark Leno, who has pushed to give greater educational opportunities to California foster youth, including priority registration and housing, will be honored with the Guardian Scholars Hero Award.

The program relies on foundation grants, sponsors and individual donations to support these former foster youth. For more information about the Guardian Scholars Program, visit www.sfsu.edu/~eop/gsp/.