LANCASTER – The University of the Antelope Valley announced Thursday it will be granting a full-ride bachelor degree scholarship every year to one lucky graduate of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Vital Intervention and Directional Alternatives (VIDA) Program.
VIDA is a 16-week program for “at risk” youth, ages 11 to17, which integrates counseling, physical fitness and community service to curb criminal behavior through positive reinforcement.
“This program is what will help these kids to develop their courage, their pride and the confidence that they need to be productive in our community,” said UAV co-founder Sandra Johnson. “We’re honored that we can be a small part of making that happen.”
The partnership between VIDA and UAV was the idea of Sgt. Steve Sylvies of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station, who felt that graduates of the intervention program should have a direct route to pursuing higher education.
“What we wanted to do is give them something to strive for, something to look forward to after their graduation,” said Sylvies.
Sylvies said the first recipient for the full UAV scholarship could be chosen as soon as next month, from VIDA’s graduating class in December. This recipient could then begin attending UAV, on scholarship, as soon as January 2012, when the semester begins.
Recipients of the UAV scholarship will be chosen by VIDA staff based on several criteria, including how well they progress through the VIDA program, schoolwork and progress reports, how well they interact with classmates and teachers, and how well they interact with family members.
“When the parents meet with the [VIDA] staff, they are going to provide feedback. Are they seeing a change in their child’s behavior?” Sylvies said. “An all around change is what we are striving for, not just ‘I can follow the rules at school,’ but we want them to interact better with their family.”
One VIDA graduate will be selected for the UAV scholarship each year. However, the university has committed itself to aiding all VIDA graduates.
“They will be showing them how to access scholarships, grants and all these other programs to help them,” said Sylvies. “Even if they didn’t win the scholarship, they can still utilize all other aspects out there to help them get into the university.”
“We can design many different ways so that these students can continue their education,” said Johnson. “We’re just starting this relationship and we can get very creative.”
There are two VIDA sites in the Antelope Valley, one in Palmdale and one in Lancaster. The sites are staffed by deputies from the Community Oriented Policing Services Bureau, as well as one deputy each from Lancaster and Palmdale Stations.
For more information on the VIDA program, visit www.vida.la.