Today is the first day of classes for students at the University of California, Los Angeles.
For those who experienced foster care, the new semester comes with an enduring promise: a $3 million endowment to support their academic success.
“I am hoping this gift will help kids at UCLA to be able to address some of their unmet financial needs,” said Jeanne Pritzker, whose Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation made the donation.
The Pritzker Foster Youth Endowment will pay for essentials that are outside of the scope of UCLA’s already robust Guardian Scholars Program, which supports students who were – or are still – in the foster care system. Pritzker pointed to additional tutoring for students in accelerated classes, help with housing and offsetting the need of many to supplement heavy course loads with part-time employment.
“On top of everything else these kids need to worry about excess financial obligations,” she said. “Having to work part-time while studying full-time just seems like too much.”
The gift is part of Pritzker’s broader strategy to support other Southern California campuses that are giving foster youth a better shot at college success. The Foundation currently supports the Guardian Scholars Programs at both Los Angeles Trade-Technical College and Los Angeles City College.
“Those dollars go so far in helping kids going through community college,” she said. “If you are someone who wants to make a big difference with a small dollar number that is the place to do it.”
Beyond the current investments, Pritzker said she wants to do more.
The Foundation will soon join the larger California College Pathways initiative spearheaded by the Stuart and Walter S. Johnson Foundations. College Pathways is a multi-year initiative aimed at increasing the number of foster youth who graduate in colleges across the state, while ensuring that those students achieve academic success at the same level or better than their peers.
Other funders include the Angell Foundation, Emily and David Pottruck and the Tipping Point Community. Next month, College Pathways will hold a conference in Los Angeles to focus on expanding college supports to California foster youth.
Daniel Heimpel is the founder of Fostering Media Connections and the publisher of the Chronicle of Social Change.
*Note: The Stuart Foundation, the Walter S. Johnson Foundation and the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation are funders of Fostering Media Connections. Emily Pottruck is the Chair of FMC’s Board of Directors.