UM-Flint Reaching Out to "Community Champions" to Help Meet Needs of Foster Youth

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White blossoms on tree in front of UM-Flint's William S. White Building
White blossoms on tree in front of UM-Flint's William S. White Building

Community leaders and local, state, and federal lawmakers are being invited to a special luncheon at the University of Michigan-Flint on Monday, March 10 focusing on foster care support in the state, such as UM-Flint's Mpowering My Success program. That program is a state-funded initiative designed to help foster youth who are aging out of care make a successful transition to college.

UM-Flint has long been a leader in championing the needs of disadvantage youth. The university was one of only 12 in the state to receive a grant from the Michigan Department of Human Services to add a campus Life Skills Coach to assist the foster care students. By utilizing a wide variety of programs already in place on the campus, a model program was developed at UM-Flint to help these students.

UM-Flint realizes there are many champions in our community that have the ability and power to impact the life of young people, especially those who are currently in or who are aging out of foster care. As a community partner, we are inviting these special guests to join us for lunch as we seek to grow more opportunities for local students and for those from across the state of Michigan.

"The Mpowering My Success program can have a significant impact on a student's success as they embark upon higher education. UM-Flint is seeking the input and advise of those who can help make an even greater difference," said Lori Vedder, director of financial aid.

"Students participating in Mpowering My Success 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 is a team of individuals, including trained mentors, professional staff, and peer advisors."

According to prior state statistics, Genesee County has been second in the state to Wayne County in the number of youth in foster care. Studies show that while 70 percent of college-age youth in foster care want to go on to higher education after high school, only a small number actually do—about 10 percent.

In the past, UM-Flint has joined with the Michigan Department of Human Services in Genesee County and the Flint YWCA to host the Foster Care Summit to get a comprehensive understanding of the problem and what help other agencies are offering.

The Community Champion Luncheon will be held in the Happenings Room in the Harding Mott University Center from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Monday, March 10.

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