On Tuesday, June 19 the San Diego County Board of Supervisors declared it “ACE Scholars Services Day” throughout the county in recognition of the program’s many successes. Celebrating five years of service this year, ACE Scholars Services is a one-of-a-kind program at CSUSM that provides former foster youth with assistance in obtaining a university degree.

“Most foster youth dream of going to college and think it is not possible,” said ACE Scholars Services Director Jim Mickelson. “Getting the message across to these youth that college is attainable is top priority. Like all young people, they need support, guidance and encouragement to get into college; and that’s where we step in.”

Without a family safety net, foster youth face higher odds of poverty, homelessness and imprisonment.  Nationally, about 58 percent of children with backgrounds in foster care graduate from high school, compared with 88 percent of the general population. Only about three percent will earn a college degree, compared with 23 percent of the general population.

Successfully bucking these trends, CSUSM has signed Memorandums of Understanding with San Pasqual Academy and San Diego and Riverside counties guaranteeing that any foster youth who meets CSU admission standards will go to the top of the admissions list at the university.

Working from a place of trust and understanding, ACE Scholars Services becomes “home” to former foster youth, helping students connect with other resources and services on campus in order to not only get to but get through the university with a degree. From assistance with often confusing college entrance and financial aid forms to academic, career and personal counseling, ACE seeks to fill the gap left by absent parents or other supportive family members.

And the program is working. As of this fall, former foster youth enrollment will reach nearly 50 students, making CSUSM the university serving the highest number of former foster youth, per capita, in the nation.

“The County of San Diego is committed to recognizing and honoring those organizations that are dedicated to the best ideals of public service and ACE Scholars Services is one such organization,” said San Diego Country Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Greg Cox.

For more information about the program, visit ACE Scholars Services.

As of this fall, former foster youth enrollment will reach nearly 50 students, making CSUSM the university serving the highest number of former foster youth, per capita, in the nation.