From abandonment, to neglect and abuse, foster youth often face bleak realities; forty six percent will drop out of high school, 37% are expected to face homelessness and only 3% go on to earn a four-year college degree. It’s clear that the odds of success are stacked against them. However, since 1987 foster youth in Silicon Valley have had a place that provides them with hope for a brighter future.
Silicon Valley Children’s Fund (SVCF) has not only provided a safe space for these deserving youth to succeed academically, but have also supplied them with the tools necessary to become self-sustaining adults. As a 2011-12 Sharks Foundation Grant Recipient, SVCF utilizes the “Youth Educating Scholars (YES) Program” to fulfill their mission to ”invest in high impact programs and practices that improve the educational and life outcomes for the foster youth in the Silicon Valley.”
The YES Program helps break the cycle of poverty and improves the outcomes for foster youth by equipping them with the support and tools to remain in school and succeed. The program began in 1999-2000 with only 10 scholars and today, the program has grown substantially to 94 scholars for the 2011-12 academic year. Since 2000, SVCF has provided more than $1.8 million in financial aid grants to over 200 former foster youth from Santa Clara County.
In order to qualify for the program a candidate must have a minimum 2.0 GPA and be already accepted to an accredited college, university or vocational school. Unlike many other scholarship programs where students only receive monetary support, the YES Scholars are also provided with academic counseling, life coaching, mentoring and links to campus and community based services including tutoring, housing and medical care.
Over the years, the “YES Program” has conducted careful analysis of mentorships, training programs and seminars, and have created solutions to help each and every scholar that has come through the program. These small efforts have resulted in greater potential for youth who have faced a lifetime of hardships. Thanks to the SVCF, foster youth have proven that given the proper support and tools, they can succeed in life and carry out their dreams. The Sharks Foundation is proud to be a supporter of this great organization.