The Clovis Rotary Club (CRC) made two donations to Fresno State organizations at its weekly meeting on Friday, April 23.
CRC President Lorenzo Rios presented a check worth $1,500 to Ofelia Gamez, coordinator for the Renaissance Scholars Program (RSP), and another check worth $3,550 to Jessica Medina, the coordinator for the Fresno State Student Cupboard.
Both the RSP, founded in 2008, and Student Cupboard, founded in 2015, are aimed at helping Fresno State students who need support throughout their academic careers.
“They [Renaissance Scholars] hear about our program. They hear about our services, and a lot of what we do for these unaccompanied youth is not done without the help of donors,” Gamez said. “It really, truly makes a difference.”
The RSP is an academic retentions program established to support incoming freshman, transfer, and continuing undergraduate students who have experienced foster care, unaccompanied homelessness and other independent certifications by the Financial Aid Office.
Gamez has been with Fresno State for 24 years and serving as the RSP coordinator for a year and a half.
“It’s not just academic support. We’re doing a lot of case management…personal support with these students to keep them focused on their academics,” Gamez said. “But they got…bigger problems with homelessness. And, ‘Where am I going to get my next meal? Where am I going to pay for this or for that?’”
Every year the RSP provides students with backpacks, toiletries, school supplies, meal cards and many other supplies.
“Oftentimes, you can’t say, ‘Oh, go home for Christmas. Go home for Thanksgiving,’” Gamez said. “Because this is their home when they move into the dorms, or they move into an apartment here in Fresno.”
When it started, Gamez said that RSP served 15 to 20 students and is currently serving around 90 students. That number will increase in the next year as the program has 48 incoming scholars.
Several scholars are coming to Fresno State from the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Stockton and many other places in the next year.
Gamez said that of students from foster youth systems, only 50% of them graduate from high school, 10% enroll in college and of that 10%, only 3-4% graduate nationally.
The Fresno State RSP is graduating 30 to 35% of its students, and 15 will be graduating this year.
As for the Fresno State Student Cupboard, its goal is to provide students with food and hygiene products free of charge.
Since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic back in March of 2020, the student cupboard dashboard states that 12,055 students have utilized its services. And since its inception, the cupboard has helped nearly 247,000 students.
Members of the Clovis Rotary Club presenting Jessica Medina, the coordinator for the Fresno State Student Cupboard, with a check for the program on Friday, April 24, 2021. (Anthony De Leon/Clovis Roundup)
The money received from the CRC will continue to go toward supplying students with the services they need.
“It’s really neat the type of support that we receive,” Gamez said. “These students are coming in with these high aspirations and motivation. And I’m touched by the stories that they’re willing to share, and…the positive attitudes that they have.”