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Soda Foundation supports Renaissance Scholars Program

  • April 29, 2009

The Y & H Soda Foundation has awarded $20,000 to Cal State East Bay’s Renaissance Scholars Program to support a part-time community outreach liaison.

As part of the university’s commitment to student success, the Renaissance Scholars Program reaches out to former foster youth to help them achieve a college education, including help with applications, advising, housing and financial assistance.

Senior Tempest Jones, the current liaison, will remain on the program’s staff after graduating in the spring. Jones, herself a former foster youth, works with independent living programs and community colleges to encourage students in the foster care system to consider college. During the coming year, she said she hopes to visit more schools, starting as early as September to help students prepare college applications for fall 2010.

Jones also mentors former foster youth entering CSUEB as freshmen. “I like being able to help them with some of the things I went through,” she said.

Alameda County has one of the largest foster youth populations in the state, said Kevin Bristow, the program coordinator for Renaissance Scholars. He said he was pleased that this grant will allow Jones to stay with the office.

“The Renaissance Scholars program is a wonderful expression of our commitment to providing access to higher education,” said Bob Burt, vice president of University Advancement.

The Soda Foundation is named for Chet Soda, a local businessman, and his wife Helen, a community leader. Its mission is to enhance the quality of life for economically disadvantaged, disabled, elderly and youth populations. Burt added that this gift was also meaningful because the Sodas were not only longtime friends of the university but also members of the leadership team that secured the land that became the Hayward campus.

The Renaissance Scholars program has also received grants from the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, the Pottruck Family Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation and Wells Fargo, as well as a number of gifts from individuals.

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