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Turlock Journal – Scholarship fund aids graduating foster youth

Turlock Journal – Scholarship fund aids graduating foster youth

khacker@turlockjournal.com209-634-9141, ext. 2004
POSTED May 21, 2015 8:30 p.m

As high school seniors prepare for graduation and to make their first life decisions as adults, they may seek advice (and financial assistance) from parents, siblings or extended family members. For many foster youth, however, there are no supportive family members able to help them transition from youth to adulthood.

That’s where Creative Alternatives and the Grace Bishop Memorial Scholarship Fund comes in.

“Many of the youth have zero family support, either financial or emotional,” said Creative Alternatives Supervising Social Worker Angela Potts.

Thanks to the California Fostering Connections to Success Act (Assembly Bill 12), enacted in 2012, foster youth can continue to receive help with living arrangements once they turn 18.  Creative Alternatives is one of the foster care agencies in Stanislaus County that serves young adults with AB12 and helps them find a place to live in the home of an approved relative, a non-related extended family member, a legal guardian, in a group home, with a licensed foster family home or on their own through Supervised Independent Living Placement.

Although AB12 has given many foster youth the chance to further their education instead of worrying about fully supporting themselves after they turn 18 years old, there are still needs to be met.

Grace Bishop, a founding board member of Creative Alternatives, was a fierce advocate for foster youth when she was alive and that dedication remains her legacy 17 years after her death with a memorial scholarship fund.

The scholarships are funded solely through donations from Creative Alternatives employees, community members and local businesses. Each year, all of Creative Alternatives youth who are turning 18 are able to apply for scholarship funds to help with the expenses of college or getting a full-time job and home of their own.

This year, a total of $15,500 was awarded to nine foster youths, including Roselawn High graduate Nicholas Hill.

Hill is still working out his living situation for when he turns 18 in July, but said he plans to attend Modesto Junior College in the fall with hopes of transferring to a four-year university to study Kinesiology.

He said he will use his scholarship money for a very practical purpose: “I’m hoping to buy a car to transport myself to college.”

Creative Alternatives raises funds year-round for the scholarship fund, but their biggest event is coming up.  The Grace Bishop Memorial Scholarship Run will be held June 6 on the campus of California State University, Stanislaus. The event will include a 1 mile, 5K and 10K run , with registration beginning at 7 a.m.,  the 1 mile starting at 8:15 a.m. and the 5K and 10K starting at 8:30 a.m. Preregistration for the 1 mile is $20 and $25 for the 5K or 10K. Race day fees are $25 for the 1 mile and $30 for the 5K or 10K. Parking is available on the day of the event in the lot across from the CSUS gymnasium. To register, call race coordinator Bruce Cresswell at 668-9361 or visit www.creative-alternatives.org.

mramaley