Eliot Arts Magnet Academy, State Senator Carol Liu Unveil New and Improved Resource Center for Foster Youth

New and Improved Resource Center for Foster YouthNew and Improved Resource Center for Foster YouthNew and Improved Resource Center for Foster YouthNew and Improved Resource Center for Foster YouthNew and Improved Resource Center for Foster Youth

Story and Photographs by BRANDON VILLALOVOS

9:11 pm | October 9, 2016

Eliot Arts and Magnet Academy unveiled their newly renovated resource center at a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday morning that caters to enrolled students in foster care. The new and improved center was made possibly by PCC’s Scholars Transitioning and Realizing Success (STARS) program that supports the educational goals of current and former foster care students and by Senator Carol Liu’s contributions that made the new look and added features possible for the campus center.

“What’s important here are the kids. Foster kids are an especially vulnerable population to lots of external sources. We just want to provide a safe place to be. PUSD has been great to give us this room here and there is a significant population of foster kids attending this school. It’s a collaboration of not only the school district and PCC, but also of health and welfare and public safety because we want to institutionalize college going culture. It’s kind of a holistic approach to try to wrap our arms around these kids who find themselves in a situation that they didn’t ask to be in,” said Liu.

The STARS resource center is a center at the K-12 school that helps bridge the achievement gap for students as a pipeline to college. It’s a partnership with PUSD, PCC and All Saints Church Foster Care Project.

The STARS program has piloted two resource centers that are in their second year of operation that include John Muir High School and Eliot Arts and Magnet, according to Program Director of Foster and Kinship Care Education and Student Advisor for STARS at PCC Karen Reed.

“It’s a place for students to drop in and build a sense of community specifically for foster youth. We really work to help them build their identity and expose them to resources very early,” said Reed.

Senator Carol Liu donated the funds to refurnish and renovate the resource center at Eliot via her Pathways Program. The program is an initiative that hosts events and coalitions that encourage collaborations to provide resources, services, and access to programs that enable individuals and families to meet their needs for healthy food, safe housing, healthcare, education and employment, according to Liu’ website.

“Today we’ve come full center with the grand opening of our new foster youth resource center which also offers equity, access and a positive environment for our foster youth to thrive and reach their academic goals. We are honored that Eliot Arts and Magnet was chosen as the first of hopefully many resource centers that will be implemented district wide,” said Eliot Arts and Magnet Academy Principal Lori Toloumian.
The new and improved resource center features bright and calming paint jobs, a large couch that seats fifteen people, and arts and crafts station, an XBOX gaming station, new books and much more.

“It’s like coming into someone’s living room. It’s very comfortable and inviting,” said Reed.

There are currently ten Eliot STARS students on record this year. Previous years have seen numbers reach almost double, according to Reed.

“We have lots of volunteers coming in that talk about careers and more. We really want to work with students so they can build positive adult relationships,” said Reed. “Creating a place that gives them a sense of belonging is huge.”

For more information about STARS, visit http://pasadena.edu/academics/support/eops-foster-youth/foster-youth/stars.php