Over 670,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care this year. At any given time, there are approximately 428,000 children and youth in foster care in the U.S. Of those, more than 20,000 young people age out of the foster care system without a permanent family. Of all kids in care 52% are male and 48% are female, 39% are 5 years old or under, 23% are 6 to 10 years old, 22% are 11 to 15 years old and 16% are 16 to 20 years old.
Research and studies have demonstrated that the individuals who leave foster care without having a permanent family have a higher probability than youth in the general population to experience homelessness, unemployment and imprisonment as grown-ups. Within 6 months of emancipation, an estimated 50% will become homeless. While there are scores of statistics on youth that age out of the foster system, research and development on adopted youth seems to be almost nonexistent and at best conflicted. What we do know is that with the combined experiences of our staff regarding one-on-one interviews with over 200 college-aged former foster youth, many adopted youth lose financial and social stability after the age of 18 and have a hard time finding aid due to a lack of program development.
"The absence of the adoptee’s voice in this debate is surprising. Researchers must listen closely to adoptees to hear their hopes and desires, their gratitude and their resentments, their joys and their sorrows. Only by moving away from preconceived notions about adoption and entering the inner world of the adoptees can researchers ever hope to understand their experience and be helpful to them when needed." - David M. Brodzinsky, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychology, Rutgers University.
Education is significantly impacted as well.
Foster children trail other students in elementary school. 75% of foster children perform below grade level standard. 80% of foster children have had to repeat a grade in school by 3rd grade. Only 45% of the foster youth complete highschool. Of those, 43% enroll in a college and 41% stay enrolled after the first year. This is simply just too heartbreaking and it needs to change.
To combat against these statistics, we are offering an opportunity for young entrepreneurs who are foster youth, at risk, and/or homeless to rise above their circumstances with empowerment--by giving back to the community. This opportunity includes evaluating the needs of the community and creating a business idea to answer those needs. The whole process in turn will foster a better foundation. How? Take this into consideration--the feeling of not being able to eat for four consecutive days and later being in a position to feed another in need--this is very uplifting and empowering.
Most foster youth grow up in an environment that is filled with disempowerment. This is the reason behind why the statistics are against the foster youth. Educating the youth and building a foundation that fosters encouragement and a sense of togetherness, is exactly what is needed today. We are all about helping those in need and giving a chance for those individuals to be in a postion to help others. Creating one big loving family.
We will help teach foster, at risk, and homeless youth how to make their own lean launch business plans (business models with immediate income stream and little to no overhead), develop elevator pitches (minute long synopses of their business), perform market research, and create a marketing plan. Then we will help raise $100 towards their startup goal by doing service projects of their choosing--after which, we will issue students a $1000 scholarship in order for them to get started.
Never will the foster youth helped by our organization be left alone--we work as a team and as a family. They will have a cooperative case manager work weekly to overcome some of the less understood challenges these youth face. This case manager will work as a sounding board for both the students and members of the program itself--in order to help integrate the students into our society and help overcome obstacles together.
Who is eligible to apply? A student is eligible for the program if they are between the ages of 8 to 18--with some room for exceptions. They must be either at risk (which we define as having suffered severe trauma as a child), foster (former or current), and/or homeless at the time of application. All students with an entrepreneurial spirit may apply and participate, but scholarships are limited by donations and competition.
How Can I Help?
If you are interested in helping, or wondering how you can contribute, donations are always appreciated. If you are looking to contribute a different way--such as volunteering--please fill out our form, and we will respond at our earliest convenience.