From scholarships for a stolen car to help enrolling in a phlebotomy course, Taneil Franklin’s college counselor was there to help. Taneil is a former foster youth attending LA Trade Tech and her college counselor was part of the NextUp program.
JBAY recently convened 271 professionals from across California to learn about NextUp and to prepare for a statewide expansion.
In 2014, JBAY advocated for Senate Bill 1023 which established NextUp. The program promotes college retention and degree completion among foster youth by providing books and supplies, child care, academic counseling and career guidance, educational planning, transportation, tutoring, food assistance and emergency housing.
Since then, JBAY has continued to work towards its expansion statewide, which was achieved in the 2022-23 state budget. Thanks to JBAY’s advocacy, $50 million is provided annually to 115 community colleges across California with the goal of assisting 7,500 current and former foster youth.
The two-day conference was held in Sacramento and included a robust line-up of informational sessions. It was organized by JBAY, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and the California Community Colleges Extended Opportunity Program & Services Association.
Cody Van Felden is a former foster youth who attended the conference and shared her perspective about what works. Cody participated in the Guardian Scholars Program at Cosumnes River College, which was a precursor for NextUp.
“The program did an outstanding job of supporting me, but also challenging me to get out of my comfort zone.
Cody also noted the value of consistency, “I didn’t have to worry about the program disappearing, like everyone else had in my life. I found a lot of comfort in that and I know a lot of other other students did as well.”
A main focus of the second day of the conference was understanding the impact of trauma on students. JBAY Project Manager Linda Ramos has worked closely with campus support programs across California and has contributed to two publications on NextUp at JBAY, “The NextUp Conference offers a space for providers to exchange ideas, collectively problem solve, create community, and gain inspiration from each other’s work.”
For Ramos, the goal is to take the information shared and apply it on their campus, “We want programs to continue to advocate for the needs of students with experience in foster care so that more students will have access to the quality support services NextUp provides and feel welcomed into educational spaces that are tailored to meet their needs.”
For Executive Director Amy Lemley, the conference demonstrates JBAY’s commitment to quality implementation, “Our commitment is to improving the lives of young people. Advocating for the adoption of a policy is just the first step towards that goal. This conference is a great example of how JBAY will keep working on an issue until the job is done.”