Momentum continues to build for our December 14th celebration, as John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) names our second Burton Champion Award winners: California State Senators Mike McGuire and Senator Angelique Ashby.
Senator McGuire and Senator Ashby will jointly receive the honor on Thursday, December 14th at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco in recognition of their collaborative advocacy to secure debt-free college for foster youth in California.
Prior to their efforts, there was a gap in the financial aid package for foster youth attending college. This has meant a persistent achievement gap for foster youth attending college. By age 23, just 10% of foster youth received their two- or four-year degree, as compared to 36% of their non-foster youth peers.
Ramses Velazquez Ramirez is a foster youth attending San Marin High School. She plans to start pre-veterinary medicine at Fresno State and faced a $10,000 shortfall. Ramirez was featured, together with JBAY Director of Education Debbie Raucher, in a recent story about the new policy in the Marin Independent Journal.
Thanks to Senator McGuire and Senator Ashby, Ramirez and tens of thousands of additional foster youth will be able to pursue their higher education goals.
Senator Ashby explains, “This legislation expands the Middle-Class Scholarship (MCS) to have 100 percent of their unmet needs covered, including expenses for books, food, lodging, after another aid is applied.”
The JBAY Board of Directors, led by President John Garcia, established the Burton Champion Award in 2022 to recognize individuals who share John Burton’s relentless commitment to service and belief that the purpose of government is to ensure equal opportunity for all Californians.
Last year’s awardees were Assemblymember Phil Ting, former state Controller Betty Yee and Senator John Laird, each of whom led notable reforms to increase housing stability and access to higher education for youth who have experienced foster care or homelessness.
According to Garcia, Senators McGuire and Ashby have gone above and beyond, “Thanks to their successful advocacy in the 2023-24 California State Budget, higher education is within reach for all foster youth in California. Instead of being a pipeline to homelessness and poverty, California’s foster care system is now a pathway to long-term economic security.”