learn / 2021
Bright Future Scholarship
Responding to an urgent community need, Assistance League® of Los Angeles (the League) founded the Bright Future Scholarship (BFS) program to address the tragically low rate of college graduation for homeless and foster youth. Offered in collaboration with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Homeless Education Office, it is the only program of its kind offering graduating foster and homeless student scholarships and financial support for each year of their college education.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
- LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
These stunning statistics show the reality of college education for homeless and foster youth: 87% of homeless youth are more likely to drop out of college than their non-homeless peers and less than 4% of youth raised in foster care will graduate college. Furthermore, more than 95% of jobs created during an economic recovery have gone to workers with at least some college education, while those with a high school diploma or less are being left behind. While homeless and foster youth may wish to pursue higher education, the stark reality is they lack funds to do so. They also lack a network of support and an awareness of resources to see their dreams through. Other barriers include limited financial means to live independently and safely, and connection with adults or agencies that could help. Education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and establishing economic mobility. It is the only way to prevent today’s homeless youth from becoming the next generation of homeless adults.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
BFS is the only scholarship program in existence solely for homeless and foster youth for LAUSD students. This reflects the League’s commitment to create programming with there is the greatest need in community and establish long range programming. The League wants homeless and foster youth to not only attend college but also to graduate. Therefore, scholarship awardees receive funding throughout their college career, either for two-year or four-year programs. Students are typically awarded $1,500 per year and continue to receive scholarships as long as they provide proof of college enrollment and maintain a 2.0 GPA. Members of the League’s Board of Directors serve as the Scholarship Committee and select the recipients to be awarded using a rubric with criteria based on need and character. Selections are made without discrimination or bias toward ethnic, racial, national, cultural, sexual, or physical differences. All applicants must have a strong academic record and demonstrate a commitment to their community. The application requires high school transcripts, a personal statement, and written recommendations on behalf of the candidate. Awards are issued either directly to the college for tuition, or to the awardee for their school supplies, books, or general expenses such as food. As 36% of college students polled nationwide report that they struggle with having enough money for necessities such as food and housing, BFS money can be used at the student’s discretion.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
L.A. County will have 20 fewer homeless and/or aged-out foster youth on the streets who need social services. Formerly homeless or foster youth can positively impact family, friends, partners, children, educators, employers, businesses, and government agencies and become contributive community members. A prime example is Jacqueline who, thanks in part to her BFS award, graduated college without student loans and with a BS in business management. In foster care from the age of five due to an alcoholic mother and father in prison for life, she was recently accepted to UCLA’s Master’s in Public Policy program. She wants to work at the state/federal level to create, change and implement policies that directly impact the child welfare system. She also wants to open a non-profit to focus on higher education for foster youth. The positive affect of Jacqueline’s efforts will be far-reaching locally and nationally she when implements her vision to create a brighter future for foster youth.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Bright Future Scholarship has been in existence since 2017. We measure the success of our program by the number of awardees remaining in college and graduating. We have awarded 48 students with scholarships and the first 12 student awardees of this program will be graduating this year with a bachelor’s degree. The other 36 students are still enrolled in college. That is a 100% success rate! The League has been informed by the director of LAUSD’s Homeless Education Office (HEO) that we offer the only program of its kind specifically for homeless and foster youth. Additionally, our program is even more unique because we continue to remain in contact with the students throughout their two or four-year education, sending letters of encouragement, providing gift bags, and offering continuous support. If a student should need to temporarily drop out due to various life challenges, BFS is flexible and will continue to provide support once they return to college.
Which of the learn metrics will you impact?
- College graduates
- College matriculation
- Community college completion
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to CONNECT