Melodie Rogers announced "The George and Melodie Rogers Foundation Renaissance Scholars Summer Internship Program Endowment” on Friday. Fresno State photo
Written by The Business Journal Staff
A program that gives Fresno State students who were formerly in foster care or homeless a leg up has received a $1 million boost.
An endowment named for the founder of a successful Fresno business will go to Fresno State’s Renaissance Scholars Program, which was founded in 2008 to provide comprehensive support by offering services including admission assistance, counseling and mentoring.
Melodie Rogers announced the endowment Friday during a celebration of life ceremony for her late husband George, establishing “The George and Melodie Rogers Foundation Renaissance Scholars Summer Internship Program Endowment.”
George Rogers, who died in February, founded and owned Fresno-based national staffing agency PrideStaff, which has operated since 1978. George earned a business degree from Fresno State in 1971.
The endowment will reinstate a summer internship program that was discontinued in 2015 due to lack of funding. Each participating student will earn a $2,400 stipend for hours dedicated to their internships. Throughout the summer, students and professional mentors will participate in ongoing meetings to discuss the internship experience and outcomes.
“Our Renaissance Scholars are deserving of the same opportunities as all of our students,” said Dr. Carolyn Coon, dean of students and acting vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Fresno State. “This gift will help give them a pathway for success as they navigate higher education, and this program will provide them with the support network of a family. The internships will give them the experience and confidence they need to believe in themselves —an element often found at the core of our families.”
More than 23,000 children “age-out” of foster care every year in the U.S., according to the National Foster Youth Institute. After reaching the age of 18, 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly “independent” and homeless. And fewer than 3% will earn a college degree at any point.
The year-to-year retention rate for Renaissance Scholars is 77%, and over 60% of graduates have gone on to pursue master’s or doctoral degrees. The graduation rate at Fresno State for Renaissance Scholars is 53% — far above the national average for former foster youth.