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In 2013, former foster youth got a big boost with Senate Bill 1208, which provides a college-tuition waiver for those who age out of the foster-care system.
But financial assistance is only one hurdle to getting a degree. A new program at ASU is addressing other challenges.
“Many former foster youth simply do not have the same support systems as their peers – from stable housing to role models,” said Cynthia Lietz, associate dean in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.
“Without the preparation and resources, these challenges can easily derail students from pursuing, and achieving, a college degree.”
Bridging Success Early-Start has received funding from Arizona State University’s Women & Philanthropy to support 50 incoming freshmen who are former foster youth, giving them access to specialized programming before coming to ASU’s campus.
“We are adapting existing resources to meet the unique needs of these young adults,” said Jeanne Hanrahan, liaison for University Academic Success Programs administration. “We can provide a landing place for youth to enter ASU, get prepared for college life and get connected to a safety net that will support them to graduation.”
The first cohort of students will participate in a one-week program before the start of the fall semester. In addition to getting oriented to the campus and the resources available, the programming helps students build life skills and a circle of friends.
“As a former foster-care child and a college graduate, I see Bridging Success Early-Start as a way to provide students with the necessary foundation for success in their first year,” said Desaray Klimenko, who earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and is now pursuing her master’s degree at ASU. “Programs like this are pivotal in realizing the dream of obtaining an education.”
“This is more than an ASU effort,” Lietz said. “Our community partners, including the Department of Child Safety, Arizona Children’s Association, Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation and Children’s Action Alliance, are working together to optimize the promise of Senate Bill 1208.”
Bridging Success Early-Start also adds another layer of support to Bridging Success, launched recently with funding from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. The program connects current and prospective students with resources to help them persist in achieving a college degree.
Both Bridging Success and Bridging Success Early-Start are a partnership between ASU’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions, and the University Academic Success Programs. They are open to students in across all majors.