By Maggie Stevens, Foster Success CEO
I first learned about Foster Success several years ago as a member of the United Way of Central Indiana’s Engagement Committee. At that point in time, Foster Success was known as Indiana Connected By 25 and had just become an independent organization after 4 years of incubation at the United Way.
Shortly after learning about the work of this organization, I happened upon this NY Times Article highlighting support programs on college campuses across the country. At that point, the article caught my eye, because I was immersed in work examining the inequity in access to college for so many people in our country. Little did I know when I posted this on Facebook 6 years ago, that my work ultimately would lead me to where I am today – supporting the educational and life outcomes of Indiana’s foster youth through my work at Foster Success.
Since joining Foster Success, I have been both heartened and humbled by the stories that I have heard from the young people that we work. Every day, the team at Foster Success works support more than 22,000 young people across Indiana who experienced foster care as teenagers through our programs and systems change work.
Over the past two years, I have learned that teens and young adults transitioning out of foster care are among an invisible population in many of our communities and that the challenges these young adults face are unique and challenges that many of us will never have to think about.
- Think back to when you were 16 years old. Who taught you to drive a car or shared their car with you so that you could take your driving test and get a license? Who took on the liability and added you to their car insurance policy when you did get a license?
- What about when you turned 18. Who helped you figure out what you might study in college or more importantly how you were going to pay for college? Did you have someone to help you find work, create a resume, or prepare for an interview when you were ready to join the world of work?
- Now think about when you got your first apartment or your first car – whether you were 16, 18, 22 or somewhere in between. Who helped you build a budget to see what you could afford? Did someone co-sign on a loan or a lease to secure your loan?
Each of us entered adulthood through our own paths, but few of us moved into adulthood without some other adult making the path a little smoother, a little less rocky, a little easier to navigate. Through our education, workforce readiness, financial literacy programs, and our advocacy work, Foster Success has worked to smooth that road for countless individuals over the past year.