The California Wellness Foundation has awarded UCR two grants for a total of $450,000, to increase access to higher education and degree completion for underserved populations.

According to UCR officials, $250,000 will go to the Guardian Scholars Program in UCR’s Office of Foster Youth Support Services and $200,000 will go to the FastStart Summer Academy in UCR’s School of Medicine.

The school’s Guardian Scholars Program supports students transitioning to college from the foster care system. The funding will provide access to year-round housing in campus residences, academic scholarships, targeted advising, mentoring, tutoring, and bi-weekly social and team-building activities. It also connects scholars to a range of campus resources, including the career and counseling centers. 

The grant will also help the Guardian Scholars cover operating expenses and supplement basic and case-managed services. In addition, it will support the establishment of new internship opportunities with regional businesses. School officials also noted that more than 50 percent of UCR’s Guardian Scholars funding comes from private support—individuals, foundations, and corporations. 

“Our program relies on the resources, strength, and support of UCR and the surrounding community to provide current and former foster youth students with a comprehensive college experience and the opportunity to explore and realize their full potential. This grant makes it possible to continue helping our scholars achieve their aspirations, so they can make a positive impact in the community that has welcomed and supported them,” Tuppett Yates, Guardian Scholars Executive Director and a professor of psychology told UCR Today. 

The $200,000 grant awarded to the School of Medicine-based FastStart Summer Academy by the California Wellness Foundation will support more than 100 high school students’ participation over three years. The funding will pay for three teachers, three teaching assistants, and a program coordinator. 

The FastStart Summer Academy is designed to increase the number of disadvantaged students pursuing careers in health or medicine and to provide them with academic and social support. The intensive, five-week program for 30 incoming UCR freshmen occurs between the senior year of high school and the freshman year of college.