When Brittany Janes started as a freshman at Metropolitan State University in Denver, she had to work two jobs and take out loans to pay for college. She had no emotional support and no role models.
And it was all because she was in the foster care system until college.
Janes is now working toward her masterâ€™s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Colorado State University.
She helped to create the Fostering Success Program and a networking group that were designed to help support students â€“â€“ financially and emotionally â€“â€“ who are products of the foster care system.
â€œI wanted to be there for other students and to be a support system for students who have the same struggles. I wanted to help them find resources,â€ Janes said.
â€œWe discovered there was a commonality between these students. We needed to take a closer look at foster care alums,â€ said Siri Newman, collegiate success coordinator for CSUâ€™s Center for Advising and Student Achievement, or CASA.
The group was put together in March but recently received recognition on campus after it developed and made its formal request to be seen as an official program.
â€œWe are gaining momentum,â€ Newman said. â€œWhat we really need to do now is to do fundraising and outreach.â€
This group is working toward making scholarships and book awards for participating students so paying for college may become an easier task.
Students formerly in foster care often work one or two full-time jobs in addition to taking full-time classes, according to information about Fostering Success. They also pay their own expenses including medical care, books, school supplies and household supplies and have no home to go back to during breaks.
â€œFoster kids experience hardships and donâ€™t have the same support as other students have,â€ Janes said.
For the group to become a success, though, it needs donations. These would go to buying books or necessities, like winter coats,â€ Janes said.
This program also provides networking groups to help students connect with others who are in similar situations.
â€œFinding way to reach out to foster youth has been the biggest struggle,â€ Janes said. â€œSome people donâ€™t want to identify by that. I have four in my group and I know there are about 80 on campus who have identified as this.â€
CSUâ€™s program is based on others across the nation, Newman said, highlighting the growth of Western Michigan University and the success of the California State school system.
The Office of Admissions, CASA and faculty members, among other campus groups and offices, have helped to build and grow the Fostering Success Program.
Staff writer Kari Pills can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.