Under a new program called “Mpowering My Success,” the University of Michigan-Flint has added a campus Life Skills Coach to assist students making the transition to college from the foster care system.
The program was made possible through a recently approved three-year grant worth $800,000 by the Michigan Department of Human Services to fund the service at six state universities and one private college.
A national study by financial aid administrators found that only 10 percent of all traditionally college-aged youth from foster care enroll in some form of post-secondary education, even though nearly 70 percent have aspirations to do so.
The success of Western Michigan University’s Seita Scholar program, which first placed Life Skills Coaches on campus in 2008, prompted the state to create the positions at other schools.
The Life Skills Coach will help youth with a wide variety of issues including career and education planning; housing and money management; transportation and mobility; and relationships and communication.
“Students participating in Mpowering My Success will receive primary guidance from the Life Skills Coach,” said Mary Jo Sekelsky, Vice Chancellor for the Division of Student Affairs. “Supplementing and supporting the coach will be a team of individuals, including trained mentors, professional staff, and peer advisors.”
Cindy Nelson-Pouget, LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker) was named as the Life Skills Coach on the UM-Flint campus. Tynesia Davis will serve as the program’s administrative assistant. It is expected that the program will serve between 12-25 students annually.
Genesee County is second in the state to Wayne County in the number of youth in foster care, with approximately 1,200 young people in the system. Of this number, it is estimated roughly 400 are at or near college age.