Western Michigan U hosts camp for foster care youth

This is a great program at Western Michigan University. Wouldn’t it be great if every university, college and even community college offered such a program across the country. Today only 2% of youth aging out of foster care receive either a 2 year or 4 year college degree as many who may start are just properly prepared for what faces them. Programs such as this could turn around this low 2% success rate.
WMU hosts camp for foster care youth
July 28, 2010

KALAMAZOO–High school-aged students living in Michigan foster care are on the Western Michigan University campus this week for a summer camp focused on helping them prepare for college and concluding with a chance for them to speak with public policy makers about the challenges they face as they pursue their college degree dreams.

WMU’s renowned Seita Scholars Program, which focuses on providing scholarship funding and a campus support structure for former foster care youth, is serving as the host for a summer camp for 22 high school juniors and seniors who are in foster care. The campers are being guided by WMU Seita Scholars who act as counselors for the two-and-one-half day camp that began Tuesday, July 27. The camp is designed to brief the younger students on how to prepare for college and is funded through a grant from the Speckhard-Knight Charitable Foundation of Ann Arbor, Mich.

The camp concludes Thursday, July 29, with both campers and Seita Scholars offering testimony to a panel of legislators, education administrators, elected officials and other influential leaders in the community. The free public event, called KidSpeak, is sponsored by Michigan’s Children, WMU, the Kalamazoo Promise and Education ReConnection in Kalamazoo County. It takes place from 10 a.m. to noon in Room 208 of the Bernhard Center.

Summer camp attendees hail from Kalamazoo, Jackson, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. While on campus, they will live in a residence hall and hear presentations on applying for college, preparing a resume, dealing with roommate issues, getting involved on campus, managing time and developing the right study skills. They also will learn about financial aid and special resources available to help foster youth attend college.

The keynote presentation during the camp will be delivered by Cherish Thomas, a graduate student in social work at the University of Michigan and a former foster youth. Also on tap for students attending will be a section on public speaking and preparing to make presentations. That session will be led by officials from United Way and Michigan’s Children.

WMU’s Seita Scholars Program, now entering its third year, is the largest and most comprehensive outreach to foster care youth in the nation. The program provides tuition and a campus support network for students who have aged out of foster care. It also ensures students have a place to live on campus year round. This fall, some 115 students will be enrolled in the program at various stages of degree completion.

The program has tapped the cooperation of state officials in the Michigan Department of Human Services and has attracted national media attention and the financial support of private citizens and state, local and national organizations, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Harold and Grace Upjohn Foundation, Guido A. and Elizabeth H. Binda Foundation, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, AT&T Foundation and the Michigan Campus Compact.


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