Why This Work Matters
Education is the key to economic well-being and personal success. By receiving a bachelor’s degree, the average Californian will go on to earn $2.2 million over his or her lifetime—$1.3 million more than those with only a high school diploma. Vocational certificate and associate degree completion can similarly open up expanded career opportunities and substantially greater earning potential. College completion also results in increases in state tax revenues and decreases in costs spent on social welfare programs and incarceration, a benefit for all Californians.
But there is a shocking disparity between the number of foster youth who aspire to a college-level education and those who achieve this goal. In one survey of California foster youth, 75% had a goal of attending and graduating from college. However, an estimated 3 to 11% of foster youth actually go on to receive a bachelor’s degree nationwide.
Removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect, California’s 66,000 foster youth are often bounced from placement to placement. Frequently disconnected from their families, communities and schools, they are much more likely than their peers to fall behind academically. If they do reach college, they often lack the support of families, mentors or caring adults to help them succeed.
The good news is that through strategic philanthropic investments, dedication and support from California’s three public post-secondary education systems, and the determination and perseverance of youth themselves, California College Pathways has helped thousands of foster youth succeed in college and career and is poised to assist thousands more.