Washington, DC – Young people in foster care are often dealt a bad hand in their early years. Their birth family cannot or will not raise them, and with no home to call their own, no family to help them find a job, and no parent to guide their journey, their futures can be uncertain.
Studies show that less than 10 percent of foster youth attend and graduate from post-secondary programs nationally. As graduates across the country wrap up the 2012 school year, however, the national nonprofit Foster Care to Success (FC2S) is celebrating a crop of foster youth who have beaten the odds.
FC2S’ scholarship programs boast an overall 62 percent graduation rate – six times the highest estimate for other foster youth nationwide. Overall, 981 young people have graduated FC2S’ scholarship programs. The organization hopes to increase this number with a recently launched public awareness campaign that will connect sponsors with deserving students.
According to FC2S, their graduates serve as proof that with financial, academic and personal support foster youth can, as First Lady Michelle Obama told graduates at Virginia Tech on May 11, 2012:
“…chart [their] own course and live life on [their] own terms….In the end, it’s up to each of us to define ourselves. It’s up to each of us to invent our own future with the choices we make and the actions we take.”
According to Eileen McCaffrey, Executive Director of Foster Care to Success, “Having options and opportunities that allow them to define a future that is very different than their past is the goal for most former foster youth. Higher education – college or specialized training – is the only path they can take that firmly plants them in that future.”
FC2S’s scholarship program helps nearly 400 undergraduates attend and progress in college annually.
Among its 2012 graduates are:
Keena A., Florida A&M University, Psychology
Amber W., Yakima Valley Community College, WA, Business Administration
Zane F., Central Lakes Community College, MN, Landscape Technology
Rosa H., San Jose State University, CA, Accounting
Austin N., The University of Arizona, Science Education
Valerie H., Syracuse University, NY, Architecture
“I am extremely grateful for the guidance I received as a college student,” said Rosa H., one of FC2S’ recent graduates from San Jose State University in Calif. “Attending orientation, working closely with on-campus resources, visiting my academic advisor regularly, and having a mentor all motivated me to choose accounting as my major. I couldn’t have done it alone, but now I have a degree and a profession of which I can be very proud.”
Foster Care to Success (formerly Orphan Foundation of America) has been helping foster youth graduate since 1981. Specifically, they help them navigate the post-secondary education system; assist them in charting a viable career path; and advise them in everything from selecting the right classes to understanding financial aid. According to FC2S, foster youth benefit immensely from professional role models, internships and networking opportunities, all of which the organization offers.
For information on FC2S programs and on how you can help sponsor a student, or on the challenges faced by older foster youth and best practices to help them surmount those challenges, visit www.fc2success.org.