By the end of summer, Lewis will be ready to take on the world — or at least college, a job, and his finances.
The 18 year old from Greenwood is participating in the Catalyst Summer Bridge program at IUPUI, a six-week experience for those transitioning to college from high school. Participants live on campus, take college-level courses, and engage in a variety of activities made possible by Foster Success’s generous supporters.
“I absolutely love it. It’s keeping me active. The program itself is an amazing experience, but the people are amazing, too,” Lewis said.
The program looks different this year. The 10 participants — all of whom are in foster care or have spent time in the system — will graduate from the Educational Success program having completed three Foster Success programs: Catalyst, Opportunity Passport™, and Works Wonders®.
“Having the chance to ‘test out college’ while also getting access to a financial education class and a career development class is a really powerful opportunity for the young people. It’s like a trifecta of preparation and support that will be really helpful for them in transitioning to independence,” said Hannah Milner, Foster Success’s Director of Health & Financial Well-Being.
Opportunity Passport™, Foster Success’s most popular program, teaches participants how to manage their money and save. It culminates in a match up to $3,500 for an asset of their choice.
For Lewis, that is likely a car, but he may use half for a car and half for housing or other basic needs, depending on his needs at the time, he said. The OPPS program offers that flexibility.
Works Wonders® prepares participants for the workforce through resume and cover letter building, interview coaching, and connections to potential employers.
“So far I have many interests in it. I am learning how to be independent and manage my money and make projects for myself,” Lewis said about OPPS and Works Wonders. “You actually get money from learning, so you’re also doing it to support yourself.”
Ultimately, if Catalyst participants decide college is not right for them, they will be prepared to enter the workforce and know how to manage their money. At Foster Success, we encourage whatever journey is right for them.
Lewis plans to continue his journey at IUPUI where he will study computer science, he said.
“Don’t underestimate them. They are more prepared and more ready than you realize,” said Tiffany Powell, who oversees the Catalyst program. “Give them a chance. They’ll rock your world — in a good way.”