In the Capitol fundraising whirl, a different event

Of the at least 96 fundraisers scheduled during the final weeks of the legislative session, there’s one that only costs $250 instead of the usual $1,000-a-head.

And the money doesn’t pad some candidate’s campaign coffers.


The $250 buys college textbooks for foster kids.


The event – 5 p.m. Tuesday (today), Aug. 27, Chicory Café, 11th and L Streets – benefits The John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes.


John Garcia, vice-president of government relations for Kaiser Permanente, offered to organize the event after Burton, chair of the California Democratic Party, told him how hard it is for foster youth to afford pricey collegiate textbooks.


On average, students now need about $500 per semester for textbooks and other course materials.


Odds aren’t exactly stacked in favor of foster kids to begin with. They are more likely be arrested, addicted or incarcerated than any other segment of California’s population.

Fewer than 15 percent of foster youth attend college after high school. Far fewer graduate with either a two-year or four-year degree.


Burton says reducing the high cost of course materials is one, easy way to help boost the odds of a successful college career.


A bipartisan group of 19 lawmakers, including Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat, are hosting the event, as are 36 associations, lobbying firms and other Capitol power hitters who aren’t always in the same agreement on other policy issues.


Here is an example of the type of student who would Burton’s event is designed to help:


“Everyone has a story and this is mine. My name is Marina. I was born in Moldova, a satellite of Russia. Life in Moldova wasn’t so great. Future prospects were slim.

“In 2001, my mom, dad, sister and two younger brothers emmigrated to the United States.


“My father had always had psychological problems resulting in my mom having an extremely hard life. He was an impossible person to life with. My mom not only had to take care of us kids but she also had to deal with my dad’s histrionics. “In 2003, dad decided to leave mom and us. We were poor. In December 2005, my mom passed away from a brain hemorrhage resulting from leukemia. We were left with no one to take care of us. The state was now responsible for our guardianship.


“When I turned 18, I was now an independent person with only myself to take care of me. Going to college was my dream. In my senior year of high school I found out about the Guardian Scholars program at Sacramento State. I applied and was accepted to Sacramento State and the Guardian Scholars program. “Most of the time, people sympathize with our stories but they don’t actually know the details. They don’t realize that the things they enjoy as a result of having parents are things that foster youth only dream of.


“The Guardian Scholars program helped me share my story with other foster youth. No one really understands what we go through except other foster youth. This program helped me psychologically by helping me learn that there are people who do understand. I didn’t know how I would be able to afford college but the Guardian Scholars program has helped me financially through scholarships that are only available to Guardian Scholars. Joy Salvetti, the program’s director, was like a parent to me. She provided the warmth and the help I needed.


“This semester, my little brother will also be attending Sacramento State. I am happy that he will also be able to have a guardian watching over him like the Guardian Scholars program.


“In the future, I also would like to donate to the Guardian Scholars program.”

Ed’s Note: Greg Lucas, the editor of California’s Capitol, is a contributing editor of Capitol Weekly. This story originally appeared here on his blog.


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