Our work

In today's economy, post-secondary education is essential for long-term economic security and the development of a fulfilling career path.

And yet, while 85% of foster youth aspire to go to college, only a small fraction ever complete a degree. Youth who have experienced homelessness often follow a similar trajectory. With proper support and guidance, however, youth with experience in foster care or homelessness can be successful college students.

John Burton Advocates for Youth works to improve the rate of college enrollment, retention and degree completion among current and former foster youth and youth who have experienced homelessness through a variety of strategies:

JBAY ensures youth are prepared for college by advocating for policy change and developing resources that can be used by professionals to assist youth. Available resources include a college planning website for foster youth, educational planning guides, training curricula and a range of webinars.

JBAY launched the California Foster Youth FAFSA Challenge in 2017, in collaboration with the California Department of Education. Since then, the percentage of foster youth who apply for financial aid has increased from 45% to 64% and a state mandate now exists for foster youth to receive help with FAFSA completion. Beginning in Fall 2021, the FAFSA Challenge will also include students experiencing homelessness.

With over one third of the state’s foster youth, Los Angeles County is key to changing outcomes for the population statewide. JBAY operates the Foster Youth College Advancement Project, which works to improve post-secondary access and success for foster youth in LA County. JBAY maintains a satellite office in LA County to facilitate this work.

As the gap between the cost of college and available financial aid continues to soar, an increasing number of college students are struggling to cover the costs of basic necessities such as food, housing, and transportation. JBAY expands the availability of resources to address student basic needs by engaging in advocacy and providing training and technical assistance to college personnel.

JBAY has been at the forefront of efforts to address college student homelessness. Key victories for JBAY have included obtaining an annual state allocation of $19 million to create housing programs for homeless students on 30 college campuses.

As a result of JBAY’s advocacy efforts, 45 community colleges offer the NextUp program for current and former foster youth. These programs are part of a network of over 125 institutions in California that operate foster youth campus support programs. Follow this link to view a searchable database of campus support programs in California.

JBAY improves outcomes for foster youth and students experiencing homelessness by advocating for better access to financial aid. Key legislative victories include the expansion of the Cal Grant Program for foster youth, and making it easier for foster youth and students experiencing homelessness to maintain their awards.

Creating new paths for foster youth