Foster Youth Program

Foster Youth Program (PATH Scholars) Annual Report 2019-2020

I. Mission Statement

PATH Scholars, in conjunction with the campus Foster Youth Committee, is dedicated to the higher educational needs of former foster youth and unaccompanied homeless youth. We will enhance access to the California State University, Chico community through collaborative efforts with other college network and community partners. For those identified as former foster youth and unaccompanied homeless youth, we will develop stability by acting as a liaison with campus and community resources. Our goal is to cultivate successful, proficient, and self-aware citizens in pursuit of their degree.

Department Goals (Last reviewed August 2020) 

  • Inform and educate the campus community about this population. (Division goal 1; University strategic priorities 1, 2)
  • Provide leadership and networking opportunities through campus and community collaboration. (Division goals 1, 2, 3; University strategic priorities 1, 2)
  • Increase access, retention and graduation rates for this population. (Division goals 1, 2, 3; University strategic priorities 1, 2)

II. Departmental Accomplishments

  • Hired a new Student Services Professional (SSP) staff to further support program goals/needs.
  • Launched Mentor Program using Student Learning Fee award, utilizing funding for an MSW Mentor Coordinator position.
  • PATH Scholars was supported with three Masters of Social Work (MSW) Interns, each focused on a specific area, including Mentoring, Basic Needs and Life after Graduation.
  • Partnered with Chico State Associated Students for textbook funding ($15,000), utilizing over half that amount, which assisted 44 students for the academic year.
  • Provided Christmas gifts to over 35 PATH Scholar students, in collaboration with The Salvation Army Angel Tree, the Chico State Wildcat Food Pantry, and Chico State’s Regional & Continuing Education.
  • Participated in Chico State Giving Day (March 4, 2020) with increased student engagement; raised $2,316.
  • Successfully transitioned to virtual program services in response to COVID-19.
  • Established new partnership with new resource agencies: for technology (laptops & Wi-Fi hotspots) and Together We Rise/Rapid Response to quickly and efficiently helps students stay enrolled in higher education during the pandemic.
  • A PATH Scholar alum partnered with the program for her MSW thesis research, to augment the nominal existing research and further support former foster youth in higher education.


  • New Student Services Professional (SSP) Staff:Since the inception of PATH Scholars, staff consisted of one position – the program coordinator. This role included everything from development, outreach, student case management, fundraising, evaluation and more. With the addition of another professional staff, roles and duties can be more clearly assigned towards student services and program development.
  • Launched Mentor Program: Student Learning Fee (SLF) funding was awarded to PATH Scholars (approx. $12,000), and provided wages for a part-time student staff (MSW Intern) to launch this pilot program. This was a significant launch because a mentor program was an original grant objective (2012). However, due to the breadth of a mentor program component, it quickly became apparent that this was not feasible. For program success, a dedicated staff was essential. The project facilitated approximately eleven matches.  Although the SLF proposal projected for 15 matches, the 11 matches were considered a success, given that participation from this student population can be low for a variety of reasons. The program had three learning objectives: to promote personal development and social skills building, to increase self-confidence and self-efficacy, and to improve academic performance among student participants. Overall, the program outcomes demonstrated that students felt improvement to some degree in all areas, as a result of participating in the mentor program.
  • Successful virtual transition after COVID-19: After the Governor issued a Shelter in Place order in mid-March and Chico State shifted to a 100% online learning environment, PATH Scholars transitioned to an entirely virtual format and services. An aggressive outreach to all students ensued, to guarantee that participating students had the necessary technology and resources to successfully complete the semester. Communication with students included phone calls, text messages, Zoom sessions and social media platforms. Program staff worked hard with students to navigate financial challenges that resulted from the pandemic, as well as a vast intensification in mental health issues. In the last seven virtual weeks of the semester, PATH Scholars offered seven Zoom group sessions, focused on general check-in’s, helpful topics, such as “self-care & coping” and an end of the year celebration. Program staff also provided an additional three Zoom opportunities to connect with program liaisons from the Financial Aid & Scholarship Office and Academic Advising Programs to ask questions specific to their situation and schedule further appointments with them, as needed. As a result, the program held 98% student retention due to the pandemic for the Spring 2020 semester.

Diversity Efforts 

  • Offered intentional Zoom group discussions to address racial tensions. This supported all students, but particularly students of color, which make up about 55% of this student group at Chico State.
  • Presented to several foster youth (from foster care agencies and schools throughout the state) in collaboration with Campus Special Tours.
  • Continued regular events with campus partners (Butte College and Shasta College) to strengthen transfer pipeline.
  • Services continue to be offered to older and re-entry students with a foster care background. There has been an increase in this student population seeking additional services as active PATH Scholars participants.
  • Participated in several CSU, Chico professional organizations
  • Chicano Latino Council
  • Foster Youth
  • 1st Gen Faculty Staff Association 

III. Changes In Policies And Procedures

Since hiring a new SSP staff, the program was able to re-evaluate the maximum number of students admitted to PATH Scholars, a policy implemented last academic year. The first priority is to effectively and appropriately serve current students. With that number slightly decreasing over the past few years, due to graduation and admitting less students, the target goal is to admit approximately 25 students in the upcoming academic year. The program will continue to be structured using a tier system – Tier I, to include students that have been verified with a foster care and/or unaccompanied homeless background and will continue to receive priority registration as well as useful information and resources; and Tier II, comprising of active students that submit an application packet and receive targeted, intrusive advising and case management services. 

IV. Resources Summary

Resource Allocation

FYP General Fund Budget Allocation 19/20


(No rollover from 18/19)

Work Study Allocation 19/20 (FYP only)


One-time SLF Fund Awards


Total Allocation


Annual Expense (GF + SLF Fund)


Unused Work Study


Unused SLF Fund


FYP General Fund Balance


Note:  The Foster Youth Program was partially funded by the Walter S. Johnson Foundation (WSJF). Grant fiscal year is based on an October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2019 timeline.  Salary for the Foster Youth Program Coordinator is included within the EOP General Fund allocation.

Human Resources

GI base funds were allocated to PATH Scholars (Foster Youth Program-FYP) to hire a new Student Services Professional (SSPII) staff. This increased the program staff from one to two SSP’s; this includes a Program Coordinator and a new Advisor to further support students and program goals/needs.


Space continues to be a challenge that is still pending to be resolved. Although we share a space with another program, we are not able to fully function in the capacity that best serves our students. 

V. Program Assessment Of Past Year

Program Objectives for 2019-2020:

  1. Continue to explore options for a permanent PATH Scholars Center.

Ongoing – The Center is still in a shared location with another program, the Dream Center.  The current space configuration has created some challenges, especially around privacy. Because of this and other challenges, we continue to work with the VPSA’s office to identify a more permanent space. 

  1. Launch Mentor Program with the assistance of a Mentor Coordinator (MSW Intern).

Met – With Student Learning Fee funds, a dedicated student staff was charged with launching the Mentor Program. The pilot program was a positive success and set the framework to continue providing this component to the PATH Scholars program for future years. This pilot year allowed for lessons learned and analysis for a model that effectively serves this student group. 

  1. Strengthen collaboration with EOP and SSS.

Met/Ongoing – Collaboration with all support programs is essential, but it is especially critical to have a solid partnership with EOP (Educational Opportunity Program) and SSS (TRIO Student Support Services). Regular meetings with the EOP Admissions Coordinator and Associate Director of EOP began this year in order to strategically work together to best serve students. This included an intentional effort to ensure that eligible students would apply to both EOP and PATH Scholars. For students needing additional support, SSS and PATH Scholars partnered on a case by case basis. Additionally, all three programs joined together in offering workshops to students throughout the year.

Ongoing Assessment Efforts 

Foster Youth/Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and Grade Levels

Grade Level

Spring 2018

Spring 2019



38 (24%)

22 (14%)

20 (15%)


25 (16%)

33 (22%)

22 (16%)


45 (29%)

39 (26%)

38 (28%)


49 (31%)

57 (38%)

56 (41%)






Foster Youth/Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and Ethnicity


Spring 2018

Spring 2019

Spring 2020









Black/African American




Two or More Ethnicities/Race








Native Hawaiian/Other Pac Islander




American Indian/Alaska Native




Not Specified/Decline









Foster Youth/Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and Term GPA

Term GPA

Spring 2018

Spring 2019

Spring 2020

Below 2.0

23 (15%)

40 (27%)

21 (15%)

2.0 – 2.99

80 (51%)

55 (36%)

39 (29%)

Above 3.0

54 (34%)

56 (37%)

76 (56%)






Foster Youth/Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and Cum GPA


Spring 2018

Spring 2019

Spring 2020

Below 2.0

17 (11%)

19 (13%)

10 (7%)

2.0 – 2.99

86 (55%)

79 (52%)

82 (60%)

Above 3.0

54 (34%)

53 (35%)

44 (33%)





Cumulative GPA for First Time Freshman

Cum GPA for Freshman




Below 2.0

10 (29%)

7 (33%)

4 (24%)

2.0 – 2.99

16 (46%)

13 (62%)

8 (47%)

Above 3.0

9 (25%)

1 (5%)

5 (29%)





Tier II Student Retention Rates

Academic Year

Total Number of Students

Student Retention Rate


2017/18 Tier II




2018/19 Tier II




2019/20 Tier II




PATH Scholars Center Visits


Fall 2017

Spring 2018

AY Total

Number of Student Visits





Fall 2018

Spring 2019

AY Total

Number of Student Visits




Fall 2019

Spring 2020

AY Total

Number of Student Visits




Note: *Fall 2018: Decrease in #’s due to Camp Fire/campus closure. *Spring 2020: Incomplete data due to COVID-19 campus closure. 

Student Learning Outcomes

Note:  A Student Learning Outcomes survey was sent out at the end of the academic year to 70 students (Tier II/active). Twenty-five students completed the survey (36% completion rate). The results of that survey inform the following:

SLO #1 – As a result of participating in the PATH Scholars Program, students will increase in their academic self-confidence and networking skills.

  • As a result of attending a PATH Scholars New Student Orientation and/or Welcome Reception (15 respondents), 80% of respondents stated that it was Extremely Helpful or Very Helpful to their overall success.
  • As a result of meeting with the PATH Scholars Academic Advising liaison to ensure being on track with courses and graduation plans (14 respondents), 86% of respondents stated that it was Extremely Helpful or Very Helpful to their overall success.
  • As a result of attending a Cultural Activity (13 respondents) and/or a Social Activity (19 respondents), 85% of respondents and 94% of respondents stated that it was Extremely Helpful or Very Helpful to their overall success, respectively.
  • As a result of historical “Networking” opportunities not being offered this academic year, we were not able to assess this area.

SLO #2 – As a result of participating in the PATH Scholars Program, students will develop and improve independent living skills, reducing their emotional stress and giving them more time to focus on academic goals.

  • As a result of attending PATH Scholars Independent Living Skills Workshops (18 respondents), 83% of respondents stated that it was Extremely Helpful or Very Helpful to their overall success.
  • As a result of working on Independent Living Skills during individual meetings with Program Staff (21 respondents), 81% of respondents stated that it made a Significant Impact or Moderate Impact to their overall success.
  • As a result of learning and practicing healthy coping skills to manage stress during individual meetings with the Program Staff (20 respondents), 90% of respondents stated that it made a Significant Impact or Moderate Impact to their overall success.
  • As a result of participating in PATH Scholars (23 respondents), 17% of respondents stated that it Completely assisted in overcoming challenges, 43% of respondents stated that it Considerably assisted in overcoming challenges and 22% of respondents stated that it Moderately assisted in overcoming challenges.

VI. Analysis

  • Overall, students continue to utilize PATH Scholars and the resources available to them to reach their academic goals. According to the Student Learning Outcome survey distributed after the end of this academic year, 96% of the respondents were Very Satisfied or Moderately Satisfied with their PATH Scholars experience. One survey participant stated, “I honestly don't know if I would have graduated without this program.” Since the ultimate goal is to increase access, retention and graduation rates, this response demonstrates success.
  • Social activities continue to be one of the most impactful components of PATH Scholars for students. Most students responded highly to that in this year’s survey. Out of the 24 survey respondents, 19 students responded that they attended a social gathering, which included: PATH Student Org Study Jams, Lunch at the PATH Scholars Center and the End of the Year Celebration Zoom. During the pandemic, students expressed how much that was needed, even though it was achieved with a virtual Zoom. One student shared about a June activity, “Last week's Scavenger Hunt was the most fun I have had since being in quarantine.”
  • The PATH Scholars Center also continues to play a vital role in the success of the program goals. Similar to the social component, 19 of the 24 survey respondents stated that they utilized the Center, specifically to use the computers. More precisely, 17 of the 19 respondents stated that it was Extremely Helpful or Very Helpful to their overall success. A combination of interactions with program staff and peers, taking a break on the couches, eating their lunch or snack, having a study space and computers/printing, all contribute to promoting their academic success.
  • Visits to the PATH Scholars Center decreased dramatically over this academic year for two major reasons. First, student sign-ins are historically under-reported. Many students are in a hurry or they forget and don’t sign in every time they access the space. It helps when there is a student receptionist greeting students and reminding them to sign in. Unfortunately, over this academic year, the Center was only staffed for 50% of the time. The second reason that the number of visits was very low this year, particularly during the spring semester was the COVID-19 campus closure after only eight weeks of instruction.
  • This year was successful with decreasing student numbers to more appropriately and effectively serve each student. PATH Scholars reached a high number of 91 total students in the last two years. This year, the program coordinator was able to reduce that to 70 students, with graduating students, moving students to the Tier I list and admitting only 14 students for Fall 2018 and 14 students for Fall 2019 semesters.
  • As program participant numbers came to a more manageable level this year, comparable to program staff and resources, designating an MSW intern to focus their support on the first-time freshman cohort proved successful as evidenced by only two active/Tier II students falling below a 2.0 GPA. This is a downward trend from past years.
  • The close of Spring 2020 was met with many challenges, as everyone (locally and globally) was dealing with a pandemic. Program staff quickly adjusted, reaching out to every student in order to ensure safety and the ability to complete the semester with the necessary technology and resources. Program staff offered Zoom group sessions and activities, as well as one-on-one Zoom appointments. While the university No Credit (NC) policy was employed to mitigate academic implications, this undoubtedly helped this student group. The diligence and hard work of students (Tier I and Tier II), in addition to the NC strategy, showed that 56% earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher for the Spring 2020 semester.

VII. Program Objectives For 2020-2021  

  1. Continue to effectively support students in this new, virtual learning environment.
  2. Strengthen collaboration with Basic Needs to ensure housing and food security of our students.
  3. Conduct intentional outreach efforts to current students verified during admissions and invite to apply to PATH Scholars.