Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U of R School of Education’s Student Success Partnership (SSP) has offered most of its services virtually.
The focus of SSP, which was founded in 2008, is to provide academic support, college and career exploratory activities, and relationship building—all with the goal of helping participating foster youth succeed. “We work to broaden the possibilities of success for the foster youth we serve,” states Kelly Kwok, who co-directs SSP with Catherine Walker.
After many months online, SSP has cautiously begun to transition back to face-to-face services, including with its weekend Success Academies. Using hands-on activities, Success Academies allow participants to explore post-graduation options such as college, vocational education, and other career paths.
In October 2021, a group of foster youth came to the main Redlands campus for an exciting morning of curiosity-building activities. The group toured the new Makerspace, part of the Fletcher Jones Foundation Innovation Center. Computer Lab Supervisor Iyan Barrera-Sandri '08, '15, '22 showed off the room’s 3-D printers, laser cutters, virtual reality, and more, sparking ideas for different projects. Barrera-Sandri told the group that the space was a “no-fail” zone; making and re-making was encouraged.
Participants then built Makeblock mBot robots and explored built-in programs such as line-following and collision avoidance modes.
Soon, participants progressed to programming the mBots through an object-oriented application and had their robots moving in different patterns and playing music.
The workshop ended with the youths demonstrating what they were able to get their mBots to do. When Walker stated emphatically, “I call this workshop a success,” a participant responded, “Well, this is the Saturday Success Academy!”
Funding for SSP comes from San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program and the San Bernardino City Unified School District.