Guardian Scholars Program

Have you experienced foster care?

The Guardian Scholars Program serves incoming first-year, transfer, and continuing students who have experienced foster care. We are committed to helping students earn a degree by providing a community of support where students can succeed and thrive.

The Guardian Scholars Program at Cal Poly provides students who have experienced foster care with:

  • Priority Registration
  • Priority Housing
  • Basic Needs Scholarship and Emergency Grant
  • Life Skills Workshops and One-on-One Skill-Building Sessions
  • Professional Development, Internship, and Conference Scholarships
  • Community Building and Social Events 
  • $250 Meal Voucher upon completion of program requirements (renewable each quarter)
  • Free Printing

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If you are interested in joining the Guardian Scholars Program, please complete the following form!


Services and Resources

We have various support services designed to help students who have experienced foster care succeed and thrive at Cal Poly.

How do I receive priority registration?

  • Students who have experienced foster care interested in receiving Priority  Registration must complete and submit the Guardian Scholars interest form and upload a copy of their verification letter (sometimes called ward of the court or dependency letter). 

 Do I have to resubmit every quarter to be considered for priority registration?

  • No, students who complete and submit the Guardian Scholars Verification and Interest Form will be automatically considered for priority registration each quarter.  

What are the requirements of the program?

Students must submit the following upon applying for the program:

  • Ward of the court or dependency letter (note: if you experience difficulty acquiring this document Guardian Scholars Program staff is here to help)
  • Program Application

Upon being admitted into the program, students must complete the following:

  • Meet with the program coordinator 
  • Complete an intake assessment 
  • Attend the new student orientation for Guardian Scholars  
  • Submit an image release form

Students must do the following each quarter: 

  • Meet at least once per quarter to discuss goals, academics, and areas of support
  • Attend at least two workshops per quarter with the Life Skills Educator
  • Meet with their academic advisor at least once per quarter (note: students who are a part of multiple programs such as EOP, Cal Poly Scholars, or the Mustang Success Center may fulfill this requirement by meeting with their program staff)
  • Submit a program participation form upon completion of program requirements to receive a $250 meal voucher (renewable each quarter)

    Campus Wide Resources

    Academic Services 

    • Educational Opportunity Program: The primary goals of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) are to improve the access, retention and graduation of students who have been historically, economically and/or educationally disadvantaged. The core of our program services are built upon a student-centered model which encourages college success, community building, and empowerment. They provide individualized counseling, tutoring, workshops, transitional programs, financial aid, study workspace, lending library, and the Learning Living Center.

    • The Academic Skills Center (ASC) offers a variety of enrichment programs and campus support services. Programs include Supplemental Workshops in Math and Science and Study Session groups for challenging entry-level STEM courses. Campus support includes online study strategies and a list of campus tutoring services

    • Academic Advising: There are many options for academic counseling at Cal Poly depending on your needs. It is recommended that you reach out to your college for guidance on Academic Advising. 

    • The Graduate Education Office serves students at the graduate level with graduate forms, steps to graduation, resources, thesis writing, and financial resources.

    • The Robert E. Kennedy Library is available for students and offers a variety of resources and services, including access to databases, research tutorials, writing and rhetoric center, book resources from other campuses, reserved study spaces, and one-on-one appointments with librarians, and reserved study spaces. 

    • The Writting and Learning Center provides tutors to help students improve their writing skills at any stage in the process, whether getting started or polishing a final draft. They also help students prepare for the Graduation Writing Requirement and Writing Proficiency Exam.

    • The Office of Financial Aid helps students apply for and receive student loans, grants, scholarships, and other types of financial aid

    Student Support Resources

    • The Basic Needs program seeks to ensure that all students have access to the resources needed to focus on education and success at Cal Poly. The Basic Needs Initiative is committed to fostering an equitable environment that honors the wellbeing of the Cal Poly community through intentionality and innovation..

    • The Disability Resource Center (DRC) cultivates an accessible and inclusive community where students with permanent and temporary disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in all aspects of campus life. They facilitate student learning and access through partnerships with students, faculty, and staff. They provide testing, services and accommodations to students with disabilities.

    • University Housing provides housing to first-year, continuing, and transfer and graduate students.
    • Cal Fresh is a nutrition assistance program that provides eligible students with up to $281 per month to spend on groceries. It gives students the flexibility to buy the foods they love at their favorite grocery stores or farmers markets (Trader Joe’s, Costco, Vons, Food 4 Less, the downtown Farmer's Market and more)! CalFresh is California's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and was formerly called ‘food stamps.’

    • The Black Academic Excellence Center (BAEC) program is committed to supporting the advancement and excellence of Black students and Black student groups within the Cal Poly community. By fostering an inclusive environment, providing academic support, and promoting a positive self-image, their goal is to empower Black students to take full advantage of all the opportunities presented while actively engaging with Black history and culture.

    • The Dream Center is committed to offering a safe, inclusive space for all undocumented students, those from mixed-status families, and their allies. The Dream Center maintains the confidentiality of individual students while fostering a welcoming community environment that aligns with the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. The Dream Center offers a range of programs and services to educate the campus community and support undocumented students’ access, persistence, graduation, and post-graduate pursuits.

    • The Gender-Affirming Care Team seeks is to ensure trans and gender-expansive students receive the highest quality care in a supportive, respectful space.

    • The Gender Equity Center supports and empowers all womxn-identifying students, faculty, and staff by creating strong community and offering resources explore feminist, womxnist, and mujerista movements through an intersectional lens.

    • The LGBTQ Campus Life (PRIDE) supports and empowers people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions to strengthen and unite our central coast community.

    • The Men and Masculinities supports and advances the potential of undergraduate men of color by empowering students with integral skills, community, and knowledge to foster success. The initiative focuses on increasing retention and graduation rates for men of color; identity exploration and holistic development through cultural affirmation and “brave space” communities; establishing a support network of mentors; and strengthening the sense of community among all students who self-identify as men of color (African American, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian-American/Pacific Islander, American Indian, and multiracial men, this also includes men of trans experience).

    • The Multicultural Center is dedicated to the recruitment, retention, and success of historically underrepresented groups. 

    • The Native American and Indigenous Cultural Center seeks to embrace and encourage students to (re)connect to the traditions and cultures of Native American and Indigenous peoples. The center aims to ensure student success by holistically supporting them and providing services rooted in de-colonial practices, community engagement, restorative healing, and native knowledge. NAICC’s vision is to create and sustain an environment in which Native and Indigenous students thrive and contribute to the university efforts  to recruit, retain, and graduate Native and Indigenous students. 

    • Career Services offers career resources and services to current students, alumni, and faculty/staff, including MustangJobs, career counseling, resume and cover letter assistance, and a clothing closet

    • Safer is Cal Poly's prevention education & confidential advocacy resource for sexual assault, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual exploitation and harassment,

    • Campus Health & Wellbeing Campus Health & Wellbeing has as its goal to provide appropriate care in a timely manner to maximize student success at Cal Poly by minimizing the effects of suboptimal health, including preventable and resolvable mental and physical impediments to learning and performance. Our objectives include preventing physical and emotional problems, and if they occur, designing interventions that will rapidly allow the student to return to and succeed in the learning environment. We also strive to minimize the impact of students’ emotional and physical problems on others, through education about preventing the spread of illness and working with campus resources to provide appropriate living arrangements for those with special needs.

    • The Office of the Dean of Students (DOS) promotes student development and leadership; enhances student success and retention; and facilitates a respectful, diverse, and inclusive campus. They provide educational programs, direct support, advocacy, and resources for successful navigation of campus and community life. The office provides an administrative home to AmeriCorps, the Cross Cultural Centers, Club Sports, Center for Service in Action, Commencement, the Center for Leadership, Parent and Family Programs, the Veterans Success Center, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Men and Masculinity, Fraternity and Sorority Life, and more.
      • Dean on Call: The DOS is available to provide assistance to student’s parents, staff, and community members with issues ranging from health and wellness, threatening or disruptive behavior, hazing, or other safety issues.

      • Student Support, Success, and Retention ensures student success by facilitating referrals, support and advocacy through nonclinical interventions. They also provide follow-up services in collaboration with other university departments or individuals, community agencies, parents or guardians, and stakeholders in the students’ success. They assist students who struggle in areas such as psychological health, physical health, relationship issues, family crisis, life trauma, social adjustment, and interpersonal conflict.

    Immediate Student Support Resources

    Disclaimer: Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. The Guardian Scholars Program does not endorse any of the following community resources or services, we simply offer this information as a courtesy to you. Please thoroughly research any resource/providers before choosing one for yourself or your family.


    Ulisses Esparza
    Program Coordinator

    Lea Scott
    Life Skills Educator

    Ceola Corella
    Program Analyst


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