Only 3% of foster youth graduate college. Here’s what ASU is doing to change that
“Bridging Success has brought me the feeling that college is possible. You guys have instilled in me that it is a straight path, but I’m not doing it alone. I really like the fact that when you say we are building a community of support and will be there when we need you — you are true to it. Along with everything I’ve learned, the sense of community and friendship that have grown from this program has been the best part of my experience at ASU.” — Cynthia, graduate student at ASU and former foster youth
My name is Justine Cheung, and I am the program coordinator at Bridging Success at Arizona State University. Cynthia is one of the hundreds of former foster youth I have had the pleasure of working with and coaching through higher education.
As a foster youth getting ready to age out of the system, you often don’t have the family, social support networks or financial security that more traditional students depend on. Many have worked extra hard to pursue a college education, but continue to face challenges that could keep them from graduating.
Did you know that out of the thousands of foster youth who age out of the foster care system every year in the United States, about 10% will pursue a college degree, but only about 3% will complete an undergraduate degree by the age of 26?
Consider that compared to the 78% graduation rate in Arizona (as of 2017), and the numbers are pretty abysmal.
That’s why Bridging Success at ASU exists — to help support foster youth prepare for college and be successful throughout their higher education pursuits.
Bridging Success provides so many resources for former foster youth at ASU, such as:
· College application support
· FAFSA application support
· Personal, trauma-informed coaching
· Emergency funding
· A safe community for like-minded individuals
While many of our programs run on an operational budget, the emergency fund is funded through donations from generous people who care about improving the lives of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Because of that support, students are empowered to focus on their education rather than their situation.
One student who benefitted from the Bridging Success emergency fund is Vanessa, a senior social work major at ASU. She experienced a dental emergency that required immediate attention. Thanks to the Bridging Success emergency fund, she was able to see a dentist and have the situation resolved quickly so she could get back to classes and focus on graduating.
Anne is another student who has benefited from the Bridging Success emergency fund. While studying environmental design her sophomore year, Anne’s roommate unexpected moved out of the apartment they shared and she was left to cover the cost of rent for the month. She shared:
“I would like to let you know how much I appreciate the emergency fund I have received. When my roommate moved out before the lease ended, I found myself in unexpected financial difficulties. With the emergency fund, I did not stress out like I usually would. Instead, I was able to focus on my classes. Getting help in a sudden situation means everything, and also it motivates me in a way…wanting to become the one who gives someday.” — Anne, environmental design student and former foster youth
I fight for foster youth every day, a job that is uniquely gratifying and exhausting, all because I know generous people stand behind me and make it happen. It’s incredible to see the outpouring of support for students in need, and that together, we can help them become educated, successful young people.
If you have yet to feel the joy of giving to a young person in a way that could change their life forever, I invite you to learn more about the Bridging Success emergency fund. Together, we can help raise the 3% graduation rate and provide a bright future for our foster youth.
ASU invites (and encourages) any enrolled students who self-identify as alumni of foster care — whether they’re new freshmen, transfer students, or continuing students at any level — to connect with the Bridging Success programs and community by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 602-496-0054.