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Guardian Scholars Program

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A collage of  9 of LACC Guardian Scholars graduates

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

About the Program

Why is the Guardian Scholars Program (GSP) important?

The percentage of foster youth attending college is 2 - 5%. The GSP exists to support the needs of foster youth in higher education to help change the outcomes of foster youth for the better and pave a path for future generations.
Did you know that less than 50% of foster youth graduate from high school?

How many students are in the GSP?

The program began in the Fall of 2009 with 35 students. Today, the GSP serves 128 students.

All the participants, students and staff, from our baseball game spring 2017



Follow Us in the Media

Read the New York Times article "Out of Foster Care, Into College".

Read the Los Angeles Times article "Life After Foster Care".

Read the Los Angeles Times article "Students Raised in Foster System Honored for Completing College".

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Guardian Scholars Program students will be able to identify student support resources to enhance their academic and career goals.

  • Students who participate in Guardian Scholars' workshops will demonstrate the ability to access and integrate information learned to achieve their educational goals.

Supported by Generous Grants from:

  • Anthony & Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation
  • California Wellness Foundation
  • Foster Care Counts
  • Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles
  • Marcled Foundation
  • May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust

Mission Statement

The LACC Guardian Scholars Program (GSP) serves students who are current, former, or emancipated foster youth who are pursuing a path within higher education. GSP’s mission is to provide academic and personal guidance to help empower students on their educational journeys to earning a Career Technical Certificate, Associate’s Degree, and/or transfer to a university.


[Lee] Well, music has always been a part of my life, since I was a kid. In church I was singing in choir. My name is Rayvonn Anthony Lee. I usually go by R. Anthony Lee. It was what I sign all of my compositions with. I’m a composer…uhh…senior transfer student at UCLA.

[Narrator]: At 26, Rayvon Anthony lee is older than most of his undergraduate classmates at UCLA. His journey to this top tier school has been a long one.

[Lee]: I come from a really abusive household growing up. It wasn’t until I was about fifteen or sixteen, I ended up in foster youth.

[Narrator]: As few as 6 percent of former foster youth, like Mr. Lee, earn a degree by the time they are 24. A relatively new program called guardian scholars is trying to change that statistic. By guiding former foter youth through the maze of college education in California.

[Lee]: Most people here have, you know their parents, or some love one, someone who can really cater to them and help them out, where I kinda felt sometimes like I was really alone and isolated.

[Narrator]: The programs are tutoring housing assistance, financial aid, and host regular meetings for students.

[Montero]: This was a population that was essentially invisible to us. It became quite clear that we needed to know about them, learn about them and provide them with what they needed.

[Narrator]: Janina Montero vice chancellor of affairs at UCLA helped to start the program.

[Montero]: If a former foster youth, or foster youth is able to get into UCLA, that child, that young man or woman, has already done extraordinary things.

[Narrator]: But the odds foster youth face are daunting.

[Lee]: My mom and my dad were both really into drugs. And I think their drug of choice was crack cocaine.

[Narrator]: Mr. Lee’s parents divorced and he was later removed from his mother’s care.

[Lee]: I was taken in by my aunt. Who took me in as her foster child. I stayed with her until about seventeen and a half, when I started taking care of myself.

[narrator] After dropping out of high school, Mr Lee earned a GED.

[Lee]: I kinda new that I wanted to write music. I kinda knew I wanted to something with music. There was no direct goal yet, and that when I ran into guardian scholars, which was probably my saving grace.

[Narrator]: Now dozen of institutions around the countries have similar outreach. The office at Los Angeles City college serves hundreds of former foster youth, like Shamir Moorer.

[Moorer]: Starting at 2 years old, I believe, I was taken away from my mother.

[Narrator]: Miss Moore estimates that she lived in more than a dozen different home until the age of 21.

[Moorer]: I was definitely a challenge, when it comes down to you not knowing whats going on, kinda thing. I was kinda forced to create a whole different kind of lifestyle in this time.

[Narrator]: Miss Moorer, a single mother, has struggled to get through college, but has found support among her peers.

[Moorer]: We’ve all been in same situations, or similar situations and we all kinda know where we come from. You know, you have what you’ve always wanted. Just a family. I guess it’s kind of a family. Well my idea of what a family is.

[Narrator] It’s a family she hopes to make proud.

[Moorer]: For me, a degree would be an accomplishment, it would be apath that I’ve paving for, not only my son, but for other people. You know, it’s like “okay, whatever challenges that there are. Don’t stop.”

[Narrator] Mr Lee, who is on track to graduate this year, has recently been excepted into an internship with film composer Hans Zimmer.

[Lee]: I can’t wait. I am actually really excited for it. You get to see behind the scenes in Hollywood, and get to see how they do things.

[Narrator] Right now, he’s hard at work on his own compositions.

[Lee] The nature of my piece is to just express me, as much as I can. So hopefully by the time I graduate, and get my degree, I’ll be able to write much more music. Make a career out of it.


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