UCLA Receives $ 1 Million To Support Foster Youth From Bruin Guardian Scholars Program
UCLA received a donation of $ 1 million from Jill and Timothy Harmon to create an endowment for the Bruin Guardian Fellows Program. The Harmons are former foster parents and longtime advocates for youth in the foster care system.
Bruin Guardian Scholars provide financial assistance, mentorship, and social and other support to UCLA students who are or were in foster care.
The endowment will provide funding that will support the program in perpetuity, starting with a salary for a full-time social worker. With previous donations starting in 2017, the Harmons provided some of the initial funding for the social worker position, ensuring that students in the program had someone to turn to for advice on colleges and universities. careers, advice on accessing financial and community resources and a listening ear. – essential assets for aging young people outside the family placement system.
Several studies have shown that there is an educational gap between young people in foster care and their peers. For example, youth in foster care are more likely than other students to drop out of college after one year, and only 3% to 5% earn a bachelor’s degree, compared to about 31% of the general population.
Host students face additional learning challenges: they have to work more hours than other students to cover tuition fees, for example, or have to find accommodation during school holidays. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these difficulties, which is why UCLA has made it a key priority to increase philanthropic support for students, especially current and former youth in foster care.
Courtesy of the Harmon family
Jill and Tim Harmon
Since launching with eight students in the 2008–09 academic year, the Bruin Guardian Scholars program has helped UCLA reduce the educational gap between current and former youth in foster care. It now serves more than 200 students – more than half of the nearly 350 who identify as former young adoptives at UCLA.
UCLA’s latest graduation rates show encouraging progress, in part thanks to the program: 60% of former young adoptives entering UCLA as freshmen in 2014 graduated in four years – an increase of 11 percentage points compared to the group entered in 2011. Additionally, 77% of former young adoptives who entered UCLA nine years ago graduated within six years.
“When most people remember their university experience, they had family to turn to for advice, but these students don’t have families to sound like a sounding board or to share their frustrations,” he said. said Jill Harmon. “We recognized that as the Bruin Guardian Scholars program grew, there was a huge need for this mentor-advisor role at this level, especially to help more of these students graduate from college.
The Harmons have welcomed infants and toddlers through the emergency shelter program in Orange County, California. They started supporting the Bruin Guardian Scholars program in 2010, when their daughter graduated from UCLA and they were members of the UCLA Parents Council. The two have supported many of the program’s initiatives, including distributing UCLA clothing, hosting Thanksgiving dinners, facilitating the offering of holiday giveaways and final exam treatment packages, and maintaining the Food UCLA Closet. They also played a key role in launching the program’s vacation accommodation initiative, which opens up campus dorms to former homestay students who need housing during extended breaks.
Beyond UCLA, the Harmons created a Guardian Scholars Fund to provide emergency financial assistance to students at State University of New York at Buffalo, who is Tim Harmon’s alma mater. He retired in 2005 as president of Pacific Sunwear.