Of the more than 400,000 children in the United States that are living in foster care, according to promises2kids.org, only half of them will receive high school diplomas.
A local school program is working to increase those statics by offering foster students additional support through a program called Y.E.S., which stands for Youth Empowering Success.
The program originated back in 2014 and now it has made its way to the collegiate level at Bakersfield College and other local school districts, including Tehachapi, have adopted the program.
We first met Carlos Lopez during his senior year at Bakersfield High School while he was in foster care.
At that time, he was uncertain about his future, until he joined the Y.E.S. program.
Now, two years later he has graduated high school and is working a full-time job while mentoring other foster students.
"As much as these kids say they don't need help, a lot of them do need help, and I just want them to continue helping as many kids as we can," Lopez said.
The program not only helps foster students but also offers resources to homeless students, as well.
Ian Anderson, an adviser to the Y.E.S. organization, tells Eyewitness News it has grown significantly.
"One of the things we found is foster youth feel disconnected from school, they move a lot so the creation of a community is really, really important," Anderson said.
Matthew Stubblefield is a sophomore at BC and a current Y.E.S student and is excited about the program’s growth on the Bakersfield College campus and is focused on ways he can give back to others.
"This program, for me, is really about helping those people who need a support group while they are in school and, you know, trying to find a way," Stubblefield said.
The program has a Trivia Night fundraiser 6-8 p.m. on April 1, at the Stockdale Affairs Event Center, 201 New Stine Road, Suite 350. Tickets may be purchased online.