The Pasadena Community Foundation announced that it has received the largest gift in its history: $10 million from the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation to establish the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Scholarship Endowment for Transition Age Foster Youth.
The endowment will create the Petersen Scholars Program, which will provide critical support for transition-age foster youth in the Pasadena and Los Angeles region who want to pursue career and technical education/vocational training.
The Petersen Scholars Program will help improve lives by empowering this population of young people (ages 16 through 25) to achieve dignity and economic independence through education, training and sustainable employment. Launching in 2022 with the support of community nonprofit and college partners, the program is designed to remove the typical obstacles encountered by transition age foster youth as they pursue their education.
Despite financial aid and free tuition at community colleges, significant funding gaps persist for this population, leading to low rates of college completion. Student participants in the Petersen Scholars Program will receive annual support for two years to help deficits in funding. The program will begin with a small cohort of students in fall of 2022 with the goal of eventually supporting 90 students annually.
“We are honored by the opportunity to steward this significant legacy,” said Jennifer DeVoll, PCF President and CEO. “These students face additional challenges as they transition into adulthood, and the availability of wrap-around support for financial, social-emotional and hardship needs will allow them to focus on priorities and general well-being. The Petersen Scholars Program will expand opportunities for transition-age foster youth to achieve their career goals.”
The Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation was established in 1997 by the late publishing magnate and Petersen Automotive Museum founder Robert Petersen, along with his late wife Margie Petersen. Throughout their lives, the Petersens gave tirelessly to support the Southern California community they adored, including gifts to the Petersen Museum, The Music Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and more. The couple also prioritized the well-being of children, and the foundation has long supported foster and at-risk youth, children’s health initiatives and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where Margie Petersen served as a member of the Board of Trustees for a decade beginning in the mid-1990s. Robert Petersen passed away in 2007 at age 80; Margie Petersen died in 2011 at age 76.