With the U.S. onset of the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020, students who entered college while homeless or who had been in foster care were especially threatened. At LMU, some at-risk students had lost jobs, had no home to return to, or suddenly faced food insecurity.
In 2013, LMU established the Guardian Scholars Program, a project of the Division of Student Affairs, to support current and former foster youths, emancipated minors, and homeless and independent students. The program focuses on postgraduate success planning, career preparation, leadership development and co-curricular engagement. But needs changed during the pandemic: How was a student with no home base, for example, to continue her or his studies, online or not?
“The Guardian Scholars Program stepped in to help students who needed to stay on campus and made funds available to help pay for groceries, school supplies and improving its students’ study environment,” says Gabriela Arana, assistant director of Student Success.
This past spring, the LMU University Advancement division launched Boundless, a crowd-funding campaign for several programs, including the Guardian Scholars. The effort netted more than $50,000, with the Guardian Scholars accounting for more than $18,000 of the total. The campaign complemented foundation gifts. The Angell Foundation, a supporter since 2013, and the Mark Hughes Foundation also gave lead gifts to the project just as the impact of the pandemic was becoming clear.
“GSP has helped in so many ways and not only showed me that there are other students in the same boat, but that there are people looking out for me,” Lucille Njoo ’21 says.
Joseph Wakelee-Lynch is editor of LMU Magazine.