Over the next 10 years, 50 students who have been homeless or have gone through the foster care system will receive scholarships to attend the University of La Verne.
The Give Something Back Foundation is funding the program through a $1 million donation that was presented to the University at the Hanawalt House on Oct. 18.
Four students were welcomed to the University this year through the scholarship program and will be receiving “wrap-around services” to ensure they have the support needed to complete their college career.
The wrap-around services include mentorships from previous Give Something Back Foundation scholars, housing assistance, financial aid, counseling availability and access to a student life representative.
“The support system we provide these four students is so important,” Board of Trustees member Owen Skelton said.
Jacob Tobiason, freshman criminology major, is one of the first four recipients of the scholarships this year.
Tobiason said he lost his mother when he was young, and his father was a struggling drug addict. As a result, he spent some time living with his brother and in the foster care system.
“Give Back has given us the peace of mind that our goals are achievable,” Tobiason said. “That any issues in our wake can be resolved. We just need to believe in ourselves and continue our education with grit, determination and perseverance.”
President Devorah Lieberman said she became aware of the importance of helping this demographic when she first came to the University.
“There are students who come from populations that aren’t college bound,” Lieberman said. “It’s part of our mission to serve these students.”
The program looks to intervene in homeless or foster students as early as their freshman year in high school. The students are then mentored through the foundation’s program and upon graduation are given the opportunity to attend a local university through the scholarship.
Bob Carr, founder of the Give Something Back Foundation, started the scholarship program after selling his electronic payments company Heartland Payment Systems for $4 billion.
Carr wanted to start the Give Something Back Foundation after receiving a scholarship for $250 during his senior year of high school.
“I just couldn’t believe that someone I didn’t know would give me money because my family was in not great circumstances.”
Many years later Carr sent a check to the organization that gave him the scholarship. He received a call shortly after thanking him for his contribution since he was the first person to ever give back to the organization after receiving a scholarship.
Carr reminded the students to take advantage of the opportunity they have been given.
“You’re beautiful and you’re brilliant and that’s why you are here,” Carr said to the four students. “But you are also very lucky.”
Christian Shepherd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.