With an aim to help more foster youth attend and complete college, nonprofit organization FosterClub is partnering with educational services company InsideTrack to provide college-related “coaching” to 12 current and former foster youth in seven different states.
InsideTrack’s coaches will work with each youth in the program on planning for their future, selecting the right college and building the skills needed for long-term and academic success, according to a press release. The coaches will continue to work with these students throughout their first year of post-secondary education.
The two organizations are announcing their partnership for the first time today. But they say the program is already underway and providing coaching services for 12 students who are currently finishing up high school in the states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, California, Washington and Oregon.
InsideTrack is typically paid by universities to coach students, Dave Jarrat, vice president of InsideTrack, said in an interview. In this partnership, InsideTrack’s services will be provided pro bono to the foster youth that FosterClub helped identify.
“This is an attempt for us to engage more deeply with the foster care community and make those services available pro bono to students who won’t otherwise be able to access them,” Jarrat said.
Celeste Bodner, executive director of FosterClub, said four of five InsideTrack coaches will work with the 12 students in group settings and that they will all communicate with one another online.
“It’s a model that would allow young people, even in difficult-to-reach places like rural areas to have somebody coach them through the transition,” Bodner said.
As of June 2016, there were 427,910 youth in foster care in the U.S., according to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). They typically age out of foster care at age 18, though several states have extended foster care to the age of 21.
The educational achievement gap between foster youth and non-foster youth has been documented in numerous studies.
The Midwest Evaluation was a landmark study that compared the lives of young adults who had aged out of the foster care system in three Midwestern states to peers in the general population. From 2008 to 2009, when the youth in the study were 23 and 24 years old, only 2.5 percent of them had a four-year college degree, and only 48 percent were employed.
Their average income was $12,064. In the general population, by age 23 and 24, 19.4 percent of the youth had a college degree, and 75.5 percent were employed. Their average income was $20,349 – almost double that of the former foster youth.
Note: This story was corrected to say that the coaches will work with students in groups, not one-on-one, and was updated to include Bodner’s comments.