Local Philanthropists Celebrate Foster Youth Grad Students at Summer Soiree on Balboa Island

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Renee Pepys Lowe, Dan Houck, and Shirley Pepys, ASF (Advanced Studies Fund) Founders

Balboa Island resident Shirley Pepys opened her beautiful Balboa Island home on Tuesday evening, August 5, to celebrate the academic achievements of Orangewood Foundation’s former foster youth.

The summer party brought together young adults who have received scholarships for graduate programs from Orangewood’s Advanced Studies Program, along with donors and Orangewood staff. The 45 guests enjoyed a sunset view of the Balboa Pavilion and passing sailboats from Pepys’ bayfront home while feasting on Mr. G’s famous lasagna.

The Advanced Studies Program was started in 2009 by Newport Beach philanthropists Shirley Pepys, Renee Pepys Lowe, and Dan Houck. Pepys and her husband, Eric, were longtime Orangewood supporters, and after Eric’s passing in 2009, Pepys, a former board member and current emeritus member, Pepys Lowe and Houck (both current board members) became aware of an Orangewood college scholarship student who was accepted into a master’s program at Harvard University. However, Orangewood’s scholarship program did not extend to graduate programs.

Orangewood Board Members, Staff, Scholars, Family and Friends on Balboa Island

As a result, Pepys, Pepys Lowe and Houck created the Advanced Studies Program, and the student successfully earned a master’s degree from Harvard University. Since then, Orangewood supporter Sandra Davis joined the trio in supporting the program. The Eric Pepys Memorial Golf Tournament was held for five years and raised over $500,000 to fund the program.

The Advanced Studies Program is open to former foster youth who have been helped by other Orangewood programs and who have the desire to earn advanced degrees. Over the last 12 academic years (including this fall), Advanced Studies has provided 172 scholarships totaling $1,121,928 to 83 former foster youth. To date, 75 students have completed their advanced degrees or certificate programs, earning masters and doctorates in a variety of fields.

“These young adults are the one percent of the one percent,” said Pepys. “They come from difficult childhoods as the victims of abuse, neglect or abandonment by their parents, and have overcome tremendous odds and are now pursuing masters and doctorate degrees throughout the United States, thanks to our program. We are so proud of all of our Advanced Studies students.”

For more information, visit https://www.orangewood4you.org/scholarships/advanced-studies-fund.

Jorge and Jacquelyn (Scholars)
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