January 19, 2023
SMC to Establish New NextUp Program for Foster Youth
SMC Receives Grant to Expand Access to Critical Support Services for Current/Former Foster Youth
New NextUp Program Will Provide Academic & Comprehensive Support, Plus Direct Financial Aid to Foster Youth Enrolled at SMC
SANTA MONICA, CA—Santa Monica College (SMC) has received a $942,225 grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to increase access to critical academic and wraparound support services for current and former foster youth. The college will establish a new, ongoing, comprehensive NextUp Program under the umbrella of SMC’s state-funded EOPS/CARE program—which support students challenged by socioeconomic and educational disadvantages—to do so.
The Budget Act of 2022-23 increases funding for the NextUp Program (formally known as the Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support Program) by $30 million for the Chancellor’s Office to allocate to community colleges statewide in keeping with an established funding formula. With the funds made available through this grant, SMC will establish a NextUp Program to provide academic, transfer, financial aid and career counseling; academic tutoring; mental wellness support; case management referrals to college/community programs; and provide direct financial aid to current/former foster youth. The goal is to increase the number of current and former foster youth who enroll at the college, persist, and complete their educational goal.
Dr. Debra Joseph Locke, who supervises SMC’s EOPS/CARE and coordinates the Guardian Scholars program for current and former foster youth, said that the new NextUp program would
be “a huge boost” to the college’s foster youth student population.
“To not have to worry about textbooks, food, transportation, housing etc., frees a student to fully focus on classes and the future,” Locke said. “This is a resilient student body that truly deserves the additional support, increased programming and direct aid that will now be available to help them to grow, flourish and succeed at SMC and beyond.”
Pictured above - SMC Guardian Scholars from previous years Anthony Longmire, Eladah Bell, and Marilyn Perez-Garcia, respectively, at the celebration of their successful graduation/transfer to a university. Established in 2013, SMC’s Guardian Scholars supports foster youth, and the new NextUp program will be integrated with Guardian Scholars, which will remain to support foster youth who may not qualify for NextUp. Since 2015, 58 SMC Guardian Scholars have graduated and/or transferred to four-year institutions including UCLA, USC, UC Irvine, San Diego State, Cal State Long Beach, UC Berkeley, FIDM, Occidental College, Howard University, CSUN, and more.
“National research shows that while a postsecondary credential can greatly enhance
the likelihood of foster youth making more successful transitions and increase their
chances for personal fulfillment, the obstacles and barriers they face are immense,”
said SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery. “This is why the efforts of the college’s Guardian Scholars program over the past several years have been critical in leaving no stone unturned
in ensuring our former/current foster youth students have the supportive family they
deserve, here at SMC. We are thrilled that this new NextUp Program will help extend
this legacy of care to these deserving students!”
SMC will continue to keep its Guardian Scholars program running to support foster youth students who do not qualify for NextUp but need support. NextUp will be integrated with Guardian Scholars and other existing student support programs on campus to ensure that all students receive equitable services and find a culture of unconditional belonging. Guardian Scholars provides academic, career, and transfer counseling; priority enrollment; meal and transportation assistance; mental health therapy; student success workshops; and more.
Established in Fall 2013, SMC’s Guardian Scholars program came into being thanks to a three-year grant from the Angell Foundation, and additional support came through grants from the S. Mark Taper Foundation, The Whittier Trust, Stuart Foundation, Attias Family Foundation, Sidney Stern Memorial Trust, California Community Foundation, The Mark Hughes Foundation, and Providence/St. John’s Health Center.
Since 2015, 58 Guardian Scholars have graduated from Santa Monica College and/or transferred to four-year institutions including UCLA, USC, UC Irvine, San Diego State, Cal State Long Beach, UC Berkeley, FIDM, Occidental College, Howard University, CSUN, and more. The program has served approximately 720 former or current foster youth, to date.
For more information about NextUp statewide, visit nextup.cccco.edu. For more information on SMC’s Guardian Scholars, and the new NextUp program, email Locke_Debra@smc.edu.
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The NextUp program seeks to provide a combination of support services and direct aid to ensure that current and former foster youth are successful in their academic, career and personal pursuits. In addition to the $30M increase to program allocation, there are several recent legislative changes aiming to serve more current and former foster youth and serve them better.
About Santa Monica College:
Santa Monica College is a California Community College accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). For 32 consecutive years, SMC has been California’s leading transfer college to UCLA, UC Berkeley, and other University of California campuses. The college also tops in transfers to the University of Southern California and Loyola Marymount University and is the top feeder west of the Mississippi to the Ivy League Columbia University. More than 110 career training degrees and certificates at SMC—in fields ranging from the traditional (Accounting, Early Childhood Education, Nursing) to the emerging (Sustainable Technologies, Technical Theatre, Cloud Computing, including a Bachelor’s Degree in Interaction Design)—offer professional preparation for students interested in directly entering the job market, transferring to a four-year school, or upgrading specific skills.