2022 Grants Challenge

United for CAPS (College and Pathways to Success)

United for CAPS (Career And Pathways to Success) is a collaborative, wrap-around effort designed to envelop foster youth in a college-going culture with individualized academic support, college access navigation and college retention services. Like a supportive family network, we provide college tours, a warm hand-off to college, care packages, financial support and crisis management assistant all designed to keep foster youth in college through degree completion.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Engagement with the foster care system is disruptive to a child’s mental health, education and long-term economic opportunity. Just 55.7% of foster youth in California graduate from high school in four years and less than 2% will earn a college degree. Foster youth in L.A. are disproportionately BIPOC and clustered in low-income communities with underperforming schools, creating a perfect storm for school drop-out, correctional systems involvement, teenage parenthood, even homelessness and human trafficking. Ensuring the educational equity and achievement of foster youth is the best path to a successful transition into self-sustaining, well-adjusted adulthood. Conversely, the lack of a high school diploma predisposes them to lifelong struggle, never escaping the systems that keep them in poverty. CYFC understands this issue because we serve over 1,700 foster and system-involved youth, achieving a consistent 90-100% rate of high school graduation and 80% rate of college matriculation.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Funding will support United for CAPS (Career And Pathways to Success), a collaborative, wrap-around effort designed to envelop foster youth in a college-going culture with individualized academic supports, college access and college retention services. The program addresses the issue above by accompanying foster youth through high school, through the vulnerable bridge between high school and college, and throughout college, ensuring they have all of the resources and supports needed to earn a college degree. Program components will include: - CYFC’s A.R.I.S.S.E.—the core academic support, college access and persistence intervention - College Mentors—college students who serve as near peers - Regional Round Tables—quarterly partner convenings of stakeholders that build a network of wrap-around supports, community-based services and resources for high school seniors - College Access Activities—college campus tours, Black College Expo, college application and FAFSA workshops - Senior Summer Intensive—a week-long college immersion experience for graduating seniors with life skills training, Guardian Scholars Office introductions, and one-on-one goal setting - College Persistence delivered in a strengths-based, youth development, case management approach with consistent engagement and individualized supports - Student Assistance—direct funding for participants using a basic monthly income model, as well as an emergency fund designed to prevent food insecurity or homelessness.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Foster youth have complex needs that can’t be addressed by any one agency. United for CAPS will bring together the systems that most impact foster youth: school districts, DCFS, colleges and universities, and direct service providers. The futures of foster youth will be transformed and our systems working very differently when collaboration, coordination, communication and child-centered efforts replace bureaucratic silos motivated by politics and funding. Sound impossible? The players are already at the table, partnering with CYFC because of its track record in scaling its proven model and skill at facilitating collaboration. Los Angeles—with the largest foster youth system in the nation—will be a different place when foster youth graduate from high school and college at the same rates as non-foster youth. We will have achieved our intended impact when the lifelong educational and career trajectories of foster youth are transformed by the educational equity which is their human right.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

CYFC has been delivering college retention services to foster youth enrolled in higher education since 2015. United for CAPS is a new extension of this program, bringing together systems and CBO’s in a wrap-around approach, creating a higher level of student engagement and bringing more resources to the table to support them in college. Currently, CYFC is providing college access services to 900 foster youth participating in high school programming and college retention services to 150 emancipated foster youth. To date, CYFC has a 43% rate of college retention, with a goal of achieving 60%--a rate that would exceed the national rate for non-foster students attending community colleges nationally. CYFC has extensive experience with data collection and formal external evaluation processes. All student data is collected in a web-based educational services management database, with college student enrollment tracked through the National Clearinghouse.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 900

Indirect Impact: 1,000