For Immediate Release
Former foster youth in Sonoma County to receive $148,000 in scholarships for higher education
SANTA ROSA, CA | July 17, 2023
More than three dozen former Sonoma County foster youth will be awarded a total of $148,000 in scholarships Thursday through a partnership between the Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation and the Sonoma County Human Services Department.
The program, which began in 2006, has provided more than $1.4 million in scholarships to 393 former foster youth pursuing a college education or trade certification.
“The county is so proud of these rising stars who have been through so much yet graduated high school and are now pursuing a college degree or trade credential,” said Supervisor Chris Coursey, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “This scholarship fund is one way we can support youth who have been through the foster care system. But it also makes our entire county stronger as these young people put their new knowledge and skills back into our community.”
The scholarship fund was established by Dianne Edwards, former director of the Human Services Department, who asked friends for donations instead of a gift to commemorate her retirement in 2006. The fund is now overseen by Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation, a Santa Rosa nonprofit formed to enrich the lives of children at the Valley of the Moon Children’s Center and to support current and former foster youth in Sonoma County. The scholarships are funded by private donors, bequests and community grants.
At an awards luncheon on Thursday, 39 former foster youth will receive $148,000 in scholarships to help them pay for tuition, books, housing, food and other necessities. Recipients are pursuing a range of educational goals, from a certificate program at Santa Rosa Junior College to a Ph.D. at Michigan State University.
“The Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation scholarship recipients are a group of smart, strong, resilient and driven young adults. They have faced adversities, known struggle, and continue to strive for success. They will not be confined or defined by their history, rather, it often inspires their greatness,” said Donna Broadbent, director of the Human Services Department’s Family, Youth and Children’s Division. “Many are first-generation college students navigating the complicated systems of higher education and establishing a new legacy for their family. Their accomplishments are incredible and deserve to be celebrated. This is not just about money, although the money is very helpful. The Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation takes the time to know each recipient individually.
They are a community-driven safety net of support, guidance and care for these young adults. I’m so proud and grateful to be a part of a community that wraps around former foster youth in this way.”
Speakers at the award luncheon will include Cheyenne McConnell, a senior at Sonoma State University who is earning a degree in psychology, and Aliyana Montevirgen, another senior at Sonoma State pursuing a major in criminal justice.
“Getting this scholarship takes out a lot of stress and just lets you focus on being 18 and being a good student. You don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay for school,” said Alexander Crossman, a former foster youth who has received an annual scholarship from the program since 2016 and is now studying for his master’s in business administration at Sonoma State University. “This scholarship kind of acts as parents because it’s not just money but it’s also a team that provides guidance, financial support, or help with paperwork. I had to get a small surgery recently, the cost would have really hurt me. So I called up the foundation and they paid for it.”
The Sonoma County Human Services Department has partnered with the Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation since 1994 to support the needs of foster youth in Sonoma County. The relationship has raised funds for the construction of an emergency children’s shelter, expanded community awareness of the issues facing foster youth, and developed new resources to support the needs of current and former foster youth.
In addition to the scholarship program, the foundation pays for dental care, field trips and birthday parties for youth housed in the Valley of the Moon Children’s Center. Learn more about these programs, or make a donation at www.vomcf.org/scholarship-program.
News media interested in covering Thursday’s awards luncheon or interviewing scholarship recipients may contact Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation for details.