Foster youth in Santa Clarita have a new, dedicated place to study and receive homework help and tutoring. The local Fostering Youth Independence (FYI) organization has created The Study Place in response to the transition to online learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the organization, foster youth have been particularly hard hit, because in many cases they lack computers and technology, a quiet space to study and assistance with their schoolwork.
The Study Place is located on the campus of Christ Lutheran Church in Valencia, and provides youth with lunch and a quiet, dedicated place to do their online learning – observing social distance guidelines – and receive assistance from an education specialist.
The city of Santa Clarita provided a grant for the hiring of the education specialist, the purchase of two laptop computers, and lunch for the students. An anonymous family foundation donated the funds for items not covered by the City grant, explained Carolyn Olsen, executive director of FYI. “We are so thankful for these partners who have enabled us to create this important resource,” she added. “For most students, college is a new and challenging experience, and when you add being a foster youth to those challenges, college is overwhelming.
“The need for a dedicated study area became more critical when all of our youth were forced to transition to online learning,” she said. “Most foster youth do not have a suitable place to study at home, and other locations at College of the Canyons (COC), local libraries, and even Starbucks became unavailable.”
The Study Place was inspired by a Girl Scout Gold Award project by Madi Marks, who last year created study sessions for the foster youth, resulting in an improvement in the youths’ grades. The program ran until the Covid-19 shutdown in March.
“The need became personal when one of our youth dropped all of his spring classes at COC due to the transition to online instruction. Living in a small apartment with four other people, he had nowhere to sit, connect to his online classes, and focus on learning,” explained Olsen.
The staff at FYI encouraged him to enroll in a summer class at COC and come in to FYI’s office to study and do his assignments, using one of the organization’s computers and WiFi connection. Successfully completing his class, he then enrolled in two fall semester classes.
“After seeing the impact a dedicated learning space made for one student, we were compelled to find a way to offer this to all of FYI’s students,” Olsen said.
The Study Place will be open on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons through June 2021.
Anyone interested in volunteering at The Study Place as a homework assistant or tutor can contact Anna Novaes at email@example.com. Additional information about FYI, including how to become an Ally to a local foster youth or make a donation, is available at www.fyifosteryouth.org.
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About Fostering Youth Independence (FYI)
FYI is a Santa Clarita-based nonprofit organization that supports local foster youth who have aged out of the L.A. County foster care system without being adopted or reunified with their birth parents. FYI addresses the serious challenges faced by these youth, which include not finishing high school or pursuing higher education, homelessness and incarceration. FYI offers current and former foster youth, ages 16-25 years, a caring adult “Ally” to provide the one-on-one guidance and encouragement they need to complete a post-secondary education, as well as resources to help these youth overcome past traumas, complete an education, gain
employment and become successful, independent adults. FYI is currently serving 46 foster youth, the majority of whom are attending College of the Canyons.