BSLA helps at-risk youth attend a four-year college


Foundation Beyond Belief selected the Black Skeptics of Los Angeles’ First in the Family Scholarship Fund to receive a Small Grant last quarter. BSLA shared this report about how the grant will be used to help at-risk youth attend college.

Black Skeptics of Los Angeles’ First in the Family Humanist scholarships will be awarded to four youth from the South Los Angeles area in July 2013.  Homeless, undocumented, foster care and LGBTQ youth are eligible to apply.  These youth are historically underrepresented in the four-year college-going population and face considerable obstacles in college preparation, financial aid, retention and graduation.  According to the Institute for College Access and Success, foster care youth who age out of the system are especially vulnerable to incarceration, homelessness and unplanned pregnancy.  Across the board, students who are the first in their immediate families to go to college and don’t have support systems to build personal confidence and academic readiness are at greater risk of dropping out.  BSLA has partnered with teacher-resource providers like Melanie Andrews, Angela Rodriguez, and Shirley Van der Plas of Washington Prep High School; Debbie Wallace and Diane Schweitzer of Gardena High School; Tabitha Thigpen of King-Drew Medical Magnet; and Marlene Carter of Dorsey High School. It is largely because of the efforts of these unsung teachers, mentors, health providers, and scores like them that homeless, foster care, undocumented, and LGBTQ seniors make it to college.  The BSLA scholarship fund is designed to address high drop-out and low college-going rates in South Los Angeles schools (according to the Los Angeles Unified School District annual “report card,” Washington Prep has a 44% graduation rate and Gardena has a 52% graduation rate, far lower than the district average).

The scholarships will provide under-represented students with funding for books and other supplies, in addition to room, board, transportation expenses, and assorted tuition fees.

The support of secular allies is an important step toward making secular, atheist, and humanist social justice organizing visible in communities of color where there is little to no history of an activist non-believer presence. Foundation Beyond Belief provided a $1,000 grant to the initial fundraiser for these scholarships last quarter.