Many organizations touch the lives of foster youth in some way. Each has a specific purpose and limited resources. The Silicon Valley Children’s Fund works with all of them to advance the interests of foster children. We partner with educational institutions, community-based organizations, and public agencies to build our joint institutional capacity and deliver services that transform our youth into successful and self-sustaining adults.
That is what makes SVCF unique. We pinpoint critical services and design and pilot innovative initiatives to help fill the gap. We provide leadership, form collaborations, and ensure accountability.
YES to Higher Education Foster youth attend and graduate from college at rates far below their peers. Nationally, less than 3% graduate with a college degree. Locally, SVCF scholars are ten times more likely to graduate from college. And our success is across the board – we provide scholarships, tutoring and academic coaching to every qualifying student in our geographic area.
RISE (Relationship Inspiring Scholar Excellence) RISE was developed to specifically address the high first-year scholar dropout rate. The first year of college is a difficult transition for many young people, and even more so for foster youth who cannot rely on strong family support. SVCF campus-based RISE coaches (some of them former foster youth) create integrated support systems for our new college scholars.
High School Roadmap to Independence Many foster youth have low high school GPAs that do not reflect their true abilities, due to trauma, unstable living situations and multiple school transfers. SVCF provides students with tutors and operates a summer school credit recovery program so students can fill in the gaps in their high school courses and receives academic credit commensurate with their knowledge and abilities. In addition, SVCF supervises a team of MSW interns from local universities who meet 1:1 with high school age foster youth, providing academic planning, college preparation, mentor support, life skills and career workshops.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) SVCF & TeenForce have partnered with top Silicon Valley tech companies to change the odds for foster youth and helps open doors to the tech industry. This project offers STEM and work force skills training to 100% of high school foster youth in Santa Clara County. Upon completing the training, youth will receive paid work experience in the high-tech field, an area where our foster youth currently lack exposure.
The average 24-year old foster youth earns 57% less than their peers and 25% of foster youth become homeless before age 20. Additionally, unemployment is higher among teens than any other age group. While many teenage foster youth are eager to begin working, to gain income, job skills, life skills, and self-confidence, they need support to get connected and mentorship to help facilitate successful employment experiences.
By Daniel Rivera