The Walter S. Johnson Foundation (WSJF) has been named the 2018 Bernard Osher Philanthropist of the Year for its work to support foster youth in California’s community colleges.
WSJF – which is a funder of Fostering Media Connections, the parent organization of The Imprint – was key in expanding the Foster Youth Success Initiative (FYSI), which connects foster youth to financial aid and other services to help them succeed in school and provides support from people who understand the unique challenges foster youth face in college. The foundation’s support helped to expand the program across all 114 campuses and secure funding for a statewide FYSI liaison who works to better integrate community partners that also play a role in foster youths’ education, including the four-year state universities they may aim to transfer into.
“The Walter S. Johnson Foundation has played a tremendous role in helping to serve students who face additional barriers to completing a certificate or degree,” said Dr. George Boodrookas, dean of advancement at Modesto Junior College Foundation, in a press release.
WSJF also funded the design and development of a new program to provide job and skills training for low-income individuals, with the goal of helping them pursue more lucrative careers. The foundation was able to help secure federal funding for the program, Fresh Success, which allows colleges to implement CalFresh Employment and Training Programs, a jobs skills curriculum connected with the food stamp program.
WSJF has contributed $5.5 million to support FYSI, Fresh Success and other programs in the California community college network.
“Support from the Walter S. Johnson Foundation has been critical to accelerate and scale programs designed to close equity gaps and prepare students for careers,” said Keetha Mills, president and CEO of the Foundation for California Community Colleges, in a press release. “We are grateful for their partnership and support.”
The award was granted by the Network of California Community College Foundations, which boosts funding and development opportunities for community colleges across the state.