scholars talk at a social gathering

Resilient Scholars Program


Building a Home Away from Home

Giving foster youth an opportunity to thrive at CSUN and beyond.

Give to the Resilient Scholars Program

Students talk at a social gathering

It’s the week before winter break and students are packing up their dorms to move home until next semester. Unless you don’t have a home, in which case you’re scrambling to find a place to live until the dorms reopen. For many foster youth, this is only one of the realities of college. Watching friends open care packages from mom, figuring out how you’re going to pay for tuition, food and housing, or even just navigating the right academic courses can be a challenge. The truth is—without substantial support services, less than one percent of all foster youth who attend a four-year university will graduate.

The Resilient Scholars Program (RSP) identifies promising foster youth who have not yet been accepted to college and grants them special admission consideration. For Zzzahkia Burnley ’19, it was the difference maker.

“It was hard for me to excel in high school because of different situations, like the number of households I had lived in,” Zzzahkia said. “The Resilient Scholars Program looked beyond my test scores.”

Once admitted, CSUN foster youth students are supported with a personal point of contact to various campus resources and departments including health and counseling centers, financial aid, admissions and records, the career center and student housing. The RSP not only helped Zzzahkia get into CSUN, it also gave her a community.

“The RSP community is a home away from home, and a lot of people didn’t have homes,” she said. “If I needed clothes, a bus pass, food, a cheaper place to live off campus, financial aid, a job — literally anything I needed — I felt free to go to the program director and ask for support. It’s almost like having a mother there to support you.”

Although RSP services are extended to all foster youth on campus, resources prohibit individualized support and assistance to students beyond ten incoming freshman and five transfer students. Your gift allows more foster youth like Zzzahkia to have access to these critically important support services, helping them thrive at college and beyond.

Today, Zzzahkia is a behavioral therapist for kids with autism and plans to attend graduate school. She’s proud to say that the RSP prepared her for life after college as well.