A young woman and young man, both students, study together in a community college study lounge.

Petersen Scholars

Pasadena Community Foundation is committed to the education and lifetime success of transition age youth (“TAY”) — young adults who begin aging out of foster care at 18. The period between ages 18 and 26 is one of significant uncertainty and challenges for TAY. Because they are often isolated from the institutions and experiences that catalyze emotional and economic growth, disconnected youth can quickly fall into poverty and homelessness.

In early 2022, a $10 million gift to PCF from the Petersen Foundation established The Margie and Robert E. Petersen Scholarship Endowment for Transition Age Foster Youth. With that generous support, PCF created the Petersen Scholar Program, which assists TAY who want to pursue career and technical education or vocational training in the Pasadena and Los Angeles regions.

Addressing Funding Gaps and Local Need

Three college-age women stand facing the camera in front of a blue, red, and white wall.
Petersen Scholars at Los Angeles Community College, August 2023.

The Petersen Scholars Program works to remove the typical obstacles encountered by TAY as they pursue their education. Despite financial aid and free tuition at community colleges, significant funding gaps persist for this population, leading to low rates of college completion. Program participants will receive annual support for two years to help deficits in funding.

The program launched in the fall of 2022 with the support of community nonprofit and college partners. The program supported 23 students in its first year; in the fall of 2023, 28 new students joined the program, bringing the program total to 51. All are enrolled in programs at three partner community colleges: Mt. San Antonio Community College (Mt. SAC), Pasadena City College, and Los Angeles City College. The Petersen Scholars Program provides each student with a monthly stipend, any materials or equipment needed, career counseling, and social-emotional support.

PCF’s experience in developing its PCF Scholars Program was pivotal to expanding PCF’s support for local underserved students via the Petersen Scholars Program. Since 2019, when the PCF Scholars Program launched, PCF has seen the incredible need that exists for local transition age foster youth. The Petersen Scholarship Endowment recognizes PCF’s ongoing commitment to addressing educational opportunity gaps and will help PCF build an equally impactful scholarship program.

For questions about the Petersen Scholars Program, please reach out to Cirenia Amador, Program Associate: camador@pasadenacf.org or (626) 796-2097, ext. 107.

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