Edison High Senior Connects with Mentor through Project ACCESS

Edison High School senior Coryana Ellis has lived in three foster care homes in three cities over the past two years, making it difficult at times to keep her grades up and stay connected with friends.
For the past year, however, one constant in her life was an adult mentor she meets with regularly, social worker Janet Haro. Coryana met Haro through Fresno Unified's Project ACCESS.

Project ACCESS provides a variety of services to support the academic achievement and well-being of its 760 students in foster care and the 1,530 students in Fresno Unified who are considered homeless. Services include assistance with enrolling students in school and making sure they are attending.
Recognizing the unique challenges that foster-care students struggle with, the state's new Local Control Funding Formula specifically targets foster-care students and awards more funds to districts with large numbers of students in foster care.
Using LCFF funds, Fresno Unified is expanding services to students in foster care, including hiring more social workers to support students from the middle school transition to high school through to graduation.
It also held three Foster Youth Roundtables in 2015-16, and implemented a pilot mentoring program specifically for foster-care students.
This new mentoring program has been a huge help to Coryana as she heads toward graduation from high school and turning 18, and has life-changing decisions to make.

"She listens to me and she always has good advice," Coryana said.
Coryana has been at her current foster home for the past year, enabling her to stay at Edison High. In November she completed her application to Fresno State University and looks forward to going to college.
But she acknowledged it has been a difficult journey adjusting to numerous changes, including not being able to see her older brother as often as she would like.
"We need a lot of support," Coryana said.