Educational Success Program


Educational Success

“The Educational Success programs encourage students to identify and pursue whatever journey is right for them, whether that be attending community college, technical school or university, entering the workforce, or joining the military. From tuition assistance, to computers and textbooks, to resources and support – we provide the tools they need to succeed.”

– Jarod Wilson, Senior Director of Impact and Programming

From Foster Care to Yale

It was a big decision — one the biggest decisions he has ever made.

Johntrell, one of the hundreds of young people who participate in the Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program each year, had been accepted to some of the most prestigious graduate programs in the country.

The 26 year old, who spent time in the foster care system in Northwest Indiana as a teenager, was steps closer to making his dreams a reality. But first, he needed to decide between Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, University of California – Berkeley, University of North Carolina, and Yale University.

Johntrell graduated from the University of Virginia in 2020 and moved to Philadelphia where he spent his first year out of school working for the government. He then spent two years as a health consultant. But he knew he wanted to make a career shift that would propel him to stand with courage and conviction, advocating for minority and underserved communities’ health needs on an international level.

He didn’t have the money to visit all the schools he applied to, but he remembered that, through Foster Success, he had an opportunity – they would match his savings up to $3500.

He had participated in the Works Wonders® and Opportunity Passport™ programs. Through Opportunity Passport™, he had access to that $3500 match. He asked Hannah Milner, Director of Health & Financial Well-Being, if he could use it for something unique — most use it to buy a car or make a down payment on an apartment. Program staff looked into it and decided he could use it to visit the universities he had been accepted to.

“I knew it was a big decision for me — an obvious investment — so I made sure I did my due diligence. I wasn’t getting caught up on the name. I wanted to see what everything was like — campus, culture, city, student life, academics, everything,” Johntrell said.

In the end, he landed on Yale, where he started graduate school this fall. But it was the ETV program and Education Coordinator Leona Gray that made it all possible.

Foster Success supported over 300 students last year, providing more than $2 million for college or training programs. According to the most recent impact survey, 74% made significant progress toward a higher education goal.

The young people Foster Success supports are persistent. Of those who did not complete a degree or credential by June, 95% said they plan to continue their education in the fall, according to the survey. Johntrell, admittedly, was not a good high school student. He had a lot on his plate at the time, he said.

“I think when people look at me they think I was this perfect student. I wasn’t. Full disclosure, I was almost expelled from high school. Something I see often in foster care is when children make a mistake, the system wants to throw you out. There isn’t a perfect student. I’ve had a lot of struggles, and the struggles will continue. Foster youth are dealing with a lot of external forces. Be patient with them,” he said.

“That’s why I value community so much. If I lost everything today, I would still have everything because I have a community of people who have given me everything.”

With the support of Foster Success and his community of people, Johntrell turned things around. Now, he hopes to make a difference globally. “My goal is to be sort of a liaison between domestic and international public health crises, not secluded to one country or areas. I want to work to merge those commonalities to find practical solutions to public health problems.

How have solutions in other parts of the country proven helpful? … working with politicians and public and private industries to figure that out,” he said.

Impact Educational Success Johntrell
His advice to other teens and young adults with foster care experience is simple: Believe in yourself, even when it feels like nobody else does.

“If you want to be something in life, there are people who will help you be that something. Take the steps to understand who you are and what your interests are. Connect with the right people who can help you explore that. The traditional route isn’t for everyone. Walk your own path. Create your own path,” he said.

“I understand there are cards that were dealt to you, but reshuffle, redraw. Find ways that you don’t have to follow this preset path that you believe was created for you. Be around people who believe in you.”

young people supported


distributed to young people


of young people plan to continue their education


of young people enrolled in higher education made significant progress toward their educational goals


of young people said Foster Success helped them meet their educational goal

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