CSUSM Signs Agreement to Help Foster Youth
In their ongoing efforts to improve the academic success rate of foster care children, California State University San Marcos and the Orangewood Foundation/Samueli Academy have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to prepare Orange County foster youth for entrance into the university.
CSUSM President Karen Haynes, Orangewood Foundation CEO Chris Simonsen and Samueli Academy Executive Director Anthony Saba signed the agreement – believed to be the first of its kind in Orange County – during a ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at the academy’s campus in Santa Ana.
As part of the “Partnership for Success,” CSUSM will provide guaranteed admission to all Orangewood high school graduates in the foster care system who meet established benchmarks for participation and performance, and meet all CSU eligibility requirements. The agreement applies to students beginning with the graduating class of 2019.
"We know that those coming from the foster care system are confronted with unique challenges in getting into, and through, college. We also know that, if given the chance, these students have much to offer and they succeed – in graduating from CSUSM, in creating meaningful lives and careers, in attending graduate programs at prestigious research universities,” Haynes said.
“We have long been committed to raising the educational attainment rate of our region, and we are proud to be the only university in the nation to offer guaranteed admission to former foster youth who meet our minimum admission standards.”
Orangewood Foundation is a nonprofit organization that’s one of the leading providers of services to current and former foster youth in Orange County, annually helping almost 2,000 foster and community youth prepare for adulthood. About 250 Orangewood young adults are currently in college, with almost half in four-year institutions.
Samueli Academy is the foundation’s public charter high school. The academy features 530 students in grades 9-12, with a 99 percent graduation rate in the most recent two years. In the past two graduating classes, 96 percent of the students went on to two- or four-year colleges.
“We are very excited to forge a deeper relationship with Cal State San Marcos and its ACE Scholars program,” Simonsen said. “They have been very successful in helping former foster youth navigate the challenges that arise when obtaining an undergraduate degree, and we are glad to be one of their partners.”
Through its innovative ACE (Achieving College Excellence) Scholars Services program, Cal State San Marcos already has MOU agreements with San Diego and Riverside counties, making it the only higher education institution in the nation to create such an opportunity for foster youth. It also has agreements with the foster youth programs at MiraCosta College and Palomar College to provide a better pipeline and increase the transfer rate.
More than 60 former foster youth are enrolled at Cal State San Marcos, and 61 former foster youth have graduated from the university since 2007.
“As an innovative and forward-thinking institution, we don’t look at where you come from. We look at where you are going,” said Jim Mickelson, the director of ACE Scholars Services.
About California State University San Marcos
Building on an innovative 28-year history, California State University San Marcos is a forward-focused institution, dedicated to preparing future leaders, building great communities and solving critical issues. Located on a 304-acre hillside overlooking the City of San Marcos, it is the only public four-year comprehensive university serving North San Diego, Southwest Riverside and South Orange counties.
The University enrolls 17,000 students. With approximately 2,000 employees, the institution is a Great College to Work For® (The Chronicle of Higher Education). As a recipient of the annual HEED Award since 2014—a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion—CSUSM is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment.