Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stoney's Kids donates $10,000 to Grossmont-Cuyamaca foundation to support foster youth

From left, Ron Oberndorfer, chair of the Foundation for Grossmont &
Cuyamaca Colleges; John Valencia, foundation CEO; Teresa Johnson,
Stoney's Kids board member; Bonnie Stone, daughter of
Stoney Stone; and Odie Goward, Stoney's Kids board member.
With its motto, “It’s all about the kids,” the nonprofit charitable organization Stoney’s Kids donated $10,000 Wednesday to benefit former foster youth now attending Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.

“Stoney has been trying for the past 20 years to find some way to help foster kids and thanks to the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges, he is finally able to live out his dream,” said Odie Goward, joined by fellow Stoney’s Kids board member Teresa Johnson and Bonnie Stone, daughter of the charitable group’s founder B.W. “Stoney” Stone, at a check presentation at Cuyamaca College during the foundation’s monthly board meeting.

Ernest Ewin, the foundation’s executive director of development, said the funds will be directed to specific programs each college has in place to support former foster youth, a population of students especially at risk of dropping out of school, both in high school and college. Ewin said the $10,000 from Stoney’s Kids is expected to help more than 300 students participating in the UP! (Unlimited Potential) program at Cuyamaca College and the EFFORT (EOPS Financial Aid Foster Youth Outreach & Retention Team) program at Grossmont College.

“We are very grateful and honored that Stoney’s Kids, a venerable organization credited for improving the lives of countless young people in East County, has found the work we do at our colleges worthy of their support,” said John Valencia, associate vice chancellor of advancement and communications for the college district and the foundation’s CEO.

A grant request submitted by the foundation to Stoney’s Kids said the funding will help former foster youth in three specific ways: fund special dinner events to provide a stronger sense of community among an often disenfranchised group of students; address emergency needs not covered by other programs; and to buy workplace-suitable clothing and shoes for the students.

Cuyamaca’s UP! Program, which last semester saw a significant increase in the number of students who graduated or transferred to a university, emphasized the challenges facing former foster youth as they make their way through college.

“These students have little to no family support and have been navigating life on their own since leaving the foster care system, facing extremely grim statistics,” reads a report submitted by the college.

According to the report:

·         65 percent of former foster youth do not have a place to live after emancipating

·         51 percent are jobless

·         Only 20 percent who complete high school enter postsecondary education, compared with 60 percent of their peers

·         The percentage of all former foster youth who attain a college degree is only 1-3 percent

“Stoney has a special place in his heart for foster youth and understands the challenges and hardships many of these young people face,” Bonnie Stone said after the foundation meeting.

Widely known throughout East County, Stoney’s Kids has donated more than $650,000 over the past 22 years to help fund programs and services helping the region’s youth, including after-school youth sports programs, scholarships for sixth-grade camp, toy drives, and juvenile counseling.