Student Transition and Academic Retention Team (START)

START is a Foster Youth Success Initiative (FYSI)  support program designed to increase access, retention, and graduation rates for current or former foster youth at DVC. Our goal is to provide a warm and welcoming environment, create a support network, and empower foster youth students to make progress towards self-sufficiency, professional success, and community leadership.

How can START help you?

  • Assistance with enrollment (application, orientation, assessment, and registration)
  • Setting up an appointment with an academic counselor to obtain an educational plan
  • Processing eligibility for priority registration
  • Streamlined process for fixing errors with residency status
  • Expedited financial aid processing (FAFSA, BOG, CHAFEE, Missing Information Checklist, etc.)
  • Access to John Burton Foundation's book fund (while supplies last)
  • Assistance with scholarship applications and provide letters of recommendation
  • Assistance with Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) application
  • Direct referrals to other support programs on campus (DSS, Tutoring, Career, Transfer, etc.)
  • Referrals to off-campus resources (housing, child care, transportation, food banks, etc.)
  • Monthly social gatherings, workshops, and celebrations
  • On-campus employment and leadership opportunities
  • Regular check-ins with START program staff

How to apply for the START Program 

To apply for the START Program, students must complete the following:

  1. Complete START Program Application Form
  2. Schedule an in-take appointment with START Program Coordinator
  3. Provide verification that you are/were in court ordered out-of-home care placement for at least one day between the ages of 13-18

Contact START Foster Youth

Program Coordinator: Mercedes Lezama 
Telephone: 925-969-2203 
Email: mlezama@dvc.edu 
Office location: SSC 127, Pleasant Hill campus map 
Drop-in hours: Mondays: 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Thursdays: 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Financial Aid Coordinator: Phoebe Keesey 
Telephone: 925-969-2124 
Email: pkeesey@dvc.edu 
Office location: SSC 127, Pleasant Hill campus map 
Drop-in hours: Tuesdays: 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Wednesdays: 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. 
Counselor: Valerie Carey 
Telephone: 925-969-2218 
Email: vcarey@dvc.edu 
Office location: SSC 127, Pleasant Hill campus map 
Drop-in hours: Mondays: 11:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Tuesdays: 10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.