Foster Youth Resilience in Education (FYRE)

FYRE Scholars is a comprehensive program that enables former foster youth to have academic support while attending the University of California, Irvine to successfully complete their bachelor’s degree.  Housed under UCI’s Student Support Services, this program was formed to aid former foster youth in their transition to university life.


The FYRE Scholars program at the University of California, Irvine strives to provide support to college students formerly in the foster care system.  This program aims to create a network that enhances the academic success and personal well-being of former foster youth attending UCI.  We guarantee a welcoming community for individuals who have faced similar experiences.  We promote transitional and educational opportunities in support of student learning and success. Thus, assisting FYRE scholars in gaining the necessary skills to become self-supporting, successful individuals who go on to transform their college experience into meaningful careers and lives.


To enable academic success for former foster youth in higher education



FYRE Scholars Program Components


Students for the FYRE Scholars program will be identified through information provided by the Office of Admissions and Office of Financial Aid.  Through these offices, students who have applied and are admitted into UCI self-identified themselves on their applications as former foster youth.  Both offices are utilized to cross-reference students to confirm their former foster youth status.


Once all students are identified as former foster youth, they are contacted by Student Support Services via email and are encouraged to register their former foster youth status with the office. Registering with the office requires proof of former foster youth status and students who need guidance in acquiring such documents can be given more information through SSS. There is no application process to become a FYRE Scholar; students need only to register with the office.


As of the 2015-2016 academic school year, there are approximately 40 former foster youth students registered with SSS. In the upcoming 2016-2017 academic year, 10 incoming freshmen and 10 incoming transfers will be joining the FYRE Scholars program.



After students register with SSS, students are invited to the welcome event during Week Zero held specifically to introduce them to the FYRE Scholars program. This event will provide students with their first impression of what kind of support and community they can receive among other students who have had similar experiences. FYRE scholars will be given information on services specific to them as scholars, such as meetings, workshops, and counseling. They will also be given information about services within SSS that they can benefit from (i.e. book loan program, study spaces, LARC scholarships, etc.).



Student Support Services is always an open space for FYRE scholars.  All counselors within SSS have an open door policy to serve students.  However, if students need extensive services and guidance, they can also schedule an appointment with the outreach coordinator through the online appointment scheduling portal on the SSS website.


FYRE students should schedule at least one formal appointment per quarter with the outreach coordinator.  This meeting would encompass conversation regarding any academics/classes, resources, opportunities on-campus (jobs, internships, volunteering, etc.), and any personal support needed.  Scholars are encouraged to visit and meet more often than once a quarter if they wish to have more support.



Workshops specifically for FYRE Scholars will take place throughout the year.  Although attendance is not required of scholars, attending such workshops will be beneficial for acclimating and thriving at UCI.  Workshops will consists of a range of topics, including: time management, study skills, gaining research experience, graduate school preparation, etc.  Certain workshops may be conjoined with other workshop initiatives occurring at Student Support Services or at Transfer Student Center.



UCI offers on-campus tutoring through the Learning and Academic Resource Center (LARC).  Typically, this tutoring service costs $100 per quarter.  However, through the scholarship, FYRE scholars can have their LARC tutoring paid for by SSS.  FYRE Scholars are required to complete an online scholarship agreement form and must adhere to the terms of the agreement.  This scholarship can be received each quarter.



By enrolling in the FYRE Scholars program, students will be eligible to receive priority registration for classes every quarter.  Priority registration allows scholars to register for classes before a majority of the undergraduate population does.  Students regardless of class standing or academic year they join FYRE Scholars are given priority registration for the duration of their time at UCI.



Former foster youth at UCI are allowed guaranteed housing throughout their entire time at the university.  Guaranteed housing specifies that these students are permitted to reside in some form of on-campus housing year-round.  All other students are only given one year of guaranteed housing on-campus.



FYRE scholars are provided funding to purchase textbooks for classes through non-profit partnerships that SSS have.  Organizations such as the John Burton Foundation and Echoes of Hope have worked to provide former foster youth the means to purchase books for their classes.  These organizations have their own requirements of eligibility for book funding that are separate from the FYRE Scholars program.  For information on specific requirements, the outreach coordinator can assist students.



The FYRE Scholars program also provides former foster youth with opportunities to seek mentorship from Ph.D. candidates and other professionals on campus.  In previous years, we have garner the participation of UCI graduate students to hold open office hours to provide extra support to scholars if they seek guidance or help from someone other than the professional staff within SSS.  It is also encouraged among returning and new FYRE scholars to connect with peers in order to create community.



There may be instances in which FYRE scholars may not have the financial stability that is demanded of college students.  The emergency fund would be an avenue of financial aid that scholars would benefit from in these times of need.  To receive aid from this fund, scholars should seek guidance from the outreach coordinator and go through a short application process to receive the funding they need.


Although there is no currently form of emergency funding for former foster youth in need of such aid, these scholars would benefit from this fund tremendously.  It would provide scholars with the unorthodox support they need in order to help make their college experience more smoothly.  Financial means for the FYRE emergency fund would be acquired through donations to the FYRE Scholars program, grants, or from the SSS budget.

FYRE Scholars: Phoenix Families


Former foster youth are often faced with barriers and experiences that many of their peers in higher education cannot relate.  As a result, it may be difficult for these students to find a niche or a safe space to be themselves.  Because academic success in higher education is deeply tied to mental well-being and social support, it is vital that FYRE scholars receive such an outlet.  A support group for former foster youth will give these individuals another source of stability that can enhance their time at UCI.



Phoenix Families will consist of at least one returning FYRE scholar who has attended UCI for the previous academic school year, although there may be more than one returning FYRE scholar.  The incoming FYRE scholars will be divided equally to each of the families.

These families will last for the one full academic school year and new families will be formed at the start of each Fall quarter.  Although new families are formed each year, scholars can still have personal relationships with members from their previous families.  The structure of the families is to acclimate incoming FYRE scholars to a community of their peers and to create a network of scholars who can provide support and encouragement in their academic endeavors while at UCI.



Janet Perez-Molina

Counselor/Program Coordinator

Foster Youth Resilience in Education (FYRE)

Janet attended California State University, Fullerton (Go Titans!) where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Services. Janet has several years of professional experience working as an Academic Advisor for Pre-Collegiate TRiO Programs at Cal State Fullerton.  She also served as Academic Coordinator for the CSUF GEAR UP Program. She is currently completing her Master of Science in Counseling: Student Development in Higher Education at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). Janet is dedicated to helping underrepresented students from low-income backgrounds to prepare and succeed in postsecondary education. Janet loves to connect students to resources and networks that will provide that support and help them thrive in college. Janet hopes to be a resource for you all throughout your time at UCI.If you have any questions about the Foster Youth Resilience in Education (FYRE) Program at UC Irvine or are interested in participating, please contact her.

To book an appointment:

Office: 2200 Student Service II