on foster care issues:

Issues Day Panel Speaker: Gabe Gonzalez’s Journey to Success

| July 1st, 2015

National Campaign Director, Center for Community Change

National Campaign Director, Center for Community Change

Nelson Mandela once said, “Social equality is the only basis of human happiness.” This could not be more true for Gabe Gonzalez, national campaign director for the Center for Community Change.

On June 9, 2015, Foster Care to Success (FC2S) hosted an “Issues Day Panel” where Gabe, one of five socially conscious experts, visited Marymount University to speak with our 2015 Aim Higher students about issues that could expand their pathways to success.

Gabe’s passion and commitment for social justice illuminated the faces of each and every student as he explained the significance of this field and how students can get involved—and find true happiness.

FC2S spoke with Gabe about why participating in Issues Day was important and what has attributed to his #journeytosuccess.

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Issues Day Panel Speaker: Chris Poulos’s Journey to Success

| June 23rd, 2015

Chris Poulos, Fellow at The Sentencing Project

Chris Poulos, Fellow at The Sentencing Project

Chris Poulos has a pretty impressive resume: He’s currently a fellow at The Sentencing Project, chairs a subcommittee for the Mayor of Portland, Maine and will graduate with a law degree in 2016.

Although Chris has many great accomplishments, he still faces one problem: He cannot rent an apartment in Washington D.C. because Chris was a convicted felon.

On June 9, 2015, Foster Care to Success (FC2S) hosted an “Issues Day Panel” where five socially conscious experts visited Marymount University to speak with our 2015 Aim Higher students about issues that could expand their pathways to success.

Using his unique background, Poulos showed students the value in using adversity as a pathway to advocate for issues, both during school and after graduation.

FC2S spoke with Chris to learn more about why participating in Issues Day was important and what has attributed to his #journeytosuccess.

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Issues Day Panel Speaker: Daniayla Stein’s Journey to Success

| June 19th, 2015

Daniayla Stein, Communications Specialist at InSight Telepsychiatry

Daniayla Stein, Communications Specialist at InSight Telepsychiatry

The class of 2015 Aim Higher Fellows all took a risk this summer when they committed to our program designed to help them understand the realities of receiving a post-secondary education, getting a job and becoming successful young professionals. Some had never been on a plane, some had never left their hometowns, and almost all of them had never been around a group of other foster youth in one place. Despite the unknowns, they all took a step to discover more.

Seek more to know more. This was the idea behind the Fellows’ “Issues Day Panel,” where five socially conscious experts visited the Marymount campus to speak with our students about issues that could expand their pathways to success, as well as better our future.

One of which affects 50-75% of foster youth, the issue is behavioral health. Daniayla Stein of InSight Telepsychiatry passionately shared her company’s mission to increase behavioral health care through technological advances that is commonly referred to as telehealth.

Foster Care to Success caught up with Daniayla to learn more about why participating in Issues Day was important and what has attributed to her #journeytosuccess.

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Oklahoma Congressman Opens His Heart and Home to Two Adopted Daughters

| June 16th, 2015

Photo Credit: Congressman Markwayne Mullin

Photo Credit: Congressman Markwayne Mullin

Markwayne and wife Christie were learning to adjust their hectic lives to his Washington duties. His three children, Jim (11), Andrew (9), Larra (6), were managing practices, homework and other family commitments, when the family fell in love with Ivy and Lynette (now 4). The twins had been living separately with two of Christie’s elderly 70 year old aunts. Although the girls were getting the love and care from the women, Christie felt compelled that her family should step in to bring the sisters together and raise them as their own daughters.

Markwayne was initially reluctant; he worried about the demands of the transition to Washington, the impact on his children, if the young girls would feel comfortable, and if he could love the children as his own. However, after much time in prayer and the support from his children, Markwayne realized the truth.

“We were Mommy and Daddy from day one and those daughters were our daughters from day one,” Markwayne said.

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A Family’s Desire to Empower Foster Youth to Succeed

| June 12th, 2015

Connections for Success’ short film is about a family bonded through the mutual love, support and hope they have found and share with each other.

Katie and John mentor three young men, Miguel, Demetrius and Jonathan, in order to give them the opportunity to reach their potential; yet, along their journey, Katie and John learned the boys helped them achieve new potentials of their own.

“My life changed immediately upon meeting the boys. It changed my perspective about love, it changed my perspective about support and constancy and dedication because I realized these boys didn’t have that in their lives,” John said.

In America, nearly 400,000 foster youth are in need of this love, support, constancy and dedication. It is estimated over 100,000 age out of the system and are not adopted. Connections for Success is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring families to realize their dreams and achieve economic independence by providing hope, resources and a plan.

Foster Care to Success is committed to equipping foster youth to accomplish their postsecondary educational goals by providing funding and support. Jonathan is a FC2S scholar and ETV recipient and Miguel is soon to be an ETV recipient as well, but without the caring adults that mentor and uplift our youth our mission would not be fulfilled.

“[Miguel] had no adults in his life that had graduated from high school, and it’s really hard to succeed when you can’t even envision success, but he has overcome so many obstacles…” Katie said.

There are countless stories similar to Katie and John, and you could be one of them. Become a FC2S mentor and join our efforts to provide students with the encouragement and guidance they need to do well academically and personally.

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2015 Aim Higher Fellows & FC2S Partners Honored During Summer Celebration

| June 12th, 2015

AH summer celebration1

On June 10, 2015, Foster Care to Success (FC2S) gathered with numerous supporters, partners and friends in the heart of Washington D.C. to recognize our 2015 Aim Higher Fellows.

Scholarship students

The 2015 Aim Higher Fellows Class included eight FC2S Scholarship students.

Each of the 27 students honored during the reception represented the promise and potential in the 3,000 students across the country who received FC2S funding and support this year. The 2015 class of fellows represented 15 states and this year’s group included eight FC2S Scholarship students.

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Former Foster Youth to Advocate for Improved Foster Parent Training

| June 11th, 2015

Lily ColbyLily Dorman-Colby understands firsthand the importance of proper training for foster parents. Both of her biological parents struggled with mental illness, preventing them from properly caring for Lily and her brothers. At age 12, Lily was separated from her brothers and moved into the first of five long-term foster home placements.

However, Lily soon found her new “homes” to be challenging adjustments.

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Congratulations to Given Kachepa, D.D.S.

| June 3rd, 2015

Given graduation 1FC2S proudly says congratulations to Given Kachepa for receiving his Doctor of Dental Surgery May 27, 2015 from Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry!

Given’s unforgettable journey is an excellent example of how determination, resiliency and hard work coupled with a caring, supportive community can help foster youth not only receive a postsecondary education but become successful young professionals.

At just 11 years old, Given came to America as a victim of human trafficking before being taken in by a loving family. Through hard work and a passion to help his family back in Africa, he graduated high school, completed college and is now a dental surgeon with the hopes of returning home to serve those in his homeland of Zambia.

This young man’s incredible story of adversity and triumph shows why it’s necessary to continue advocating on behalf of thousands of young people across the country.

FC2S is proud to have served Given along his pathway to success and we wish him all the best as a dentist!

Given graduation 2


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I am Not Alone!

| May 15th, 2015

By Panny, East Carolina University

In college there are many times where I feel like I am often alone and have no one to turn to, especially during the moments where I feel lost and clueless about the direction of my life.

Although I have past experiences that I want to forget, I am also thankful for them. My past has led me to so many individuals and life changing events I never thought would have happened.

Once or twice every semester I am reminded that there is someone out there who does actually care and wants me to succeed in everything that I do. Many times I feel like I don’t have a family, but receiving care packages from individuals who take time out of their busy lives to prepare and send this package to me means more than I can ever say or express. Opening a box and being greeted by a simple letter or card with kind and uplifting words always puts a smile on my face and reminds me that I have a different kind of family—a family that is looking out for me from afar.

All items in the packages that I receive are used and shared with my roommates, which also ends up putting a smile on their faces.

The combination of care packages, support and advising from my coordinators and FC2S has changed my outlook on life. With all the encouraging words and help throughout the years, it has changed and encouraged me to get out there and become more involved with student organizations along with my community.

Knowing now that I am never alone and will always have a family in anything that I do helps me succeed in school and work on becoming someone more than I am today. I am truly thankful for everything that has happened because each experience has made me who I am today.

“The family is both the fundamental unit of society as well as the root of culture. It … is a perpetual source of encouragement, advocacy, assurance, and emotional refueling that empowers a child to venture with confidence into the greater world and to become all that he can be.”-Marianne E. Neifert, Dr. Mom’s Parenting Guide


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Daily Reminders that Someone Cares

| May 15th, 2015

By Torri, Missouri State University

My freshman year of college was a pretty stressful time as I balanced school and finding a job that fit my class schedule. I received my first care package around Valentine’s Day, which was the perfect time because I really needed a pick me up. There were chocolates, which I shared with my roommate; a red scarf, which kept me warm during that frigid winter; and a few other knick-knacks I placed on my desk.

Back then, I never took the time to consider where all of these cool gifts came from. Not only were they cool because they helped me stay warm and gave me and my roommate something to snack on, but these items meant a lot to me because of the fact that people took time out of their day to create such a box. They weren’t forced to create this care package, and they didn’t get any special recognition as the sender was anonymous.

I receive a box every semester, and now that I am older I think about these gifts more and more. A few semesters ago I got a season of the TV show Scrubs and I can remember all the nights my now husband and I stayed up laughing as we watched each episode. I’ve also received shampoo, a helpful gift for when money is tight, and a little magnetic notepad. The notepad included a magnet with an inspirational quote, which I still have on my refrigerator.

All of these gifts have not only proven to be useful, but have given me a daily reminder of what it is truly like to give to someone less fortunate.

This year, I had a strange feeling that something was missing during Christmas time. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it, but as I was trying to figure out what to buy my husband, a realization hit me: I was once one of those little kids who barely got anything for Christmas. I remember the embarrassment and disappointment I suffered around the holiday as I lied to my friends about what I got in order to cover up the fact that we were too poor to do anything. Reflecting on my past experiences, I felt the sudden urge to help children instead of exchanging gifts with my husband. He and I decided to devote all of our energy to giving kids the best Christmas possible. If someone can devote the time and energy to make hundreds of care packages for all of us youth, then surely we could also give back.

Through all of this, I glanced at the refrigerator and read the magnet I received long ago. It reads:

“One day, I decided to help wherever I could and it was almost like magic because I was exactly what the world needed everywhere I went.”

I never truly understood that message until then, and now that I do, I feel the urge to take on more volunteer projects and help wherever and whenever I can!

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