Imagine trying to type out a final paper for a college class on your phone. Or circling the public computers at the library during midterms, waiting for one to open up so you can complete an online quiz, hoping the library will stay open long enough for you to finish.
This is the reality for foster youth students. A personal computer or laptop is an essential tool for college today, but the cost is often out of reach for foster youth. As these students age out of the foster care system at 18 years old, they are left without housing, educational or emotional support and their future is uncertain.
Thankfully, organizations like the Sonoma County Medical Association Alliance Foundation (SCMAAF) encourage foster youth to continue their education by providing them with the technology they need to excel. SCMAAF has awarded over 250 laptop computers to foster youth pursuing post-secondary education since 2007.
On July 18th, 2018, the committee donated and presented 22 laptop computers to foster youth attending Santa Rosa Junior College at the completion of the SRJC Foster Youth Summer Bridge. Summer Bridge is an opportunity for foster youth to become familiar with SRJC as well as the support services available on campus to help them inside and outside the classroom.
"We’ve seen that when foster youth have access to their own laptops, not only do their grades and class attendance improve, but their self-esteem as well. In our technologically driven society, laptops are crucial to academic access," says Laura Robertson, SCMAAF representative.
In addition to awarding computers, SCMAAF presented a $5,000 check to the SRJC Bear Cub Scholars Program. The SRJC Bear Cub Scholars Program provides support and resources for current and former foster youth in their first year of attendance. The program offers one-on-one mentoring to help students successfully navigate the college system and connects them to a community that they can rely on to help them set and achieve their academic goals.
"We are extremely grateful for the donation to the Bear Cub Scholars Program. This gift will allow us to provide meal vouchers, gas and grocery cards, and supplies to SRJC foster youth in our program. We look forward to working with SCMAAF to help this vulnerable population," says Lily Hunnemeder-Bergfelt, SRJC Dean of Student Support Programs.
If you would like to support current and former SRJC foster youth, you can make a gift online or call the Foundation at 707-527-4348 for more information. Thank you to SCMAAF for supporting SRJC foster youth.