States With Promising Practices


Across the United States, various four- and two-year postsecondary institutions offer a range of wraparound supports and services for students who have experience in foster care. Former foster care youth enrolled at these institutions can receive a variety of services including academic and career counseling, mentoring, life-skills training, and housing support. Below is a list of nationwide institutions with promising practices to help increase alumni of foster care with postsecondary access, retention, degree completion, and successful transition to adulthood.


Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation

Fostering Advocates Arizona

Secondary Education Programs for Foster Care Alumni

First Star Arizona State University Academy (ASU)

First Star ASU is a free, comprehensive four-year college access program that aims to provide foster youth the academic support, enrichment and resources needed to enroll and succeed in college.

Four-Year Institutions with Campus-Based Programs for Foster Care Alumni

Arizona State University – Bridging Success (Foster Youth at ASU)

Tempe, AZ 85281 (P) 480-965-2100

University of Arizona – Fostering Success

Robert L. Nugent building, Thrive Center, 1212 E. University Blvd. Box #210040, Tucson, AZ 85721 (P) 520-626-5710

2-Year Institutions with Campus-Based Programs for Foster Care Alumni

Maricopa Community Colleges - The Bridging Success Initiative

The Bridging Success Initiative aims to increase college attendance and completion rates among students aging out of the foster care system. The program focuses on three key areas: retention, degree completion, and transfer. The Bridging Success Initiative is offered on the following campuses:

Glendale Community College

6000 West Olive Ave., Glendale, Arizona 85302, (P) 623-845-3000

Mesa Community College

Student Success Programs, Southern and Dobson Campus, 1833 W. Southern Ave, Mesa, AZ, (P) 480-461-7212

Paradise Valley Community College

18401 N. 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85032

Scottsdale Community College

9000 East Chaparral Rd., Scottsdale, AZ85256-2626

California College Pathways

California College Pathways is astatewide partnership that provides resources and leadership to campuses andcommunity organizations to help foster youth succeed at community colleges andfour-year universities.

Two-Year Institutions with Campus-Based Programs for Foster Care Alumni


The Next Up Program, formerly CAFYES, is designed to promote the success of current and former foster youth enrolled at postsecondary institutions in California. The Next Up program is available at 45 community college campuses in California. Click here for the full list of postsecondary institutions offering services through NextUp. A few institutions are noted below:

Please note: When you contact these offices, be sure to ask for the NextUp coordinator or counselor so you get directed to the foster youth specialist who is there to help you.

Allan Hancock College

800 S. College Dr., Santa Maria, CA 934541, (P) 805-922-6966

College of Almeda

Building A-111, 555 Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway, Alameda, CA, 94501 (P) 510-748-2107   

Clovis Community College

10309 N. Willow Avenue, Fresno, CA 93730-5401, (P) 559-325-5200

Cerro Coso Community College

3000 College Heights Blvd., Ridgecrest, CA 93555, (P) 760-384-6100 

College of the Sequoias

915 South Mooney BLVD, Visalia, CA 93277-2234 (P) 559-730-3700 

Golden West College

15744 Goldenwest Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92647-0592 (P) 714-892-7711 

Los Angeles City College

855 North Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90029-3590 (P) 323-953-4000

San Diego City College

1313 Park BLVD, San Diego, CA92101-4787 (P) 619-388-3400

Four-Year Institutions with Campus-Based Programs for Foster Care Alumni

Guardian Scholars Program

The Guardian Scholars Program exists to help improve the educational outcomes for current and former foster youth by providing holistic services and support to meet their needs through transition, graduation, and post-graduate planning. The Guardian Scholars Program is available at various postsecondary institutions in California. A few institutions are noted below:

California State University, Fullerton

800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92831Center for Scholars (P) 657-278-3458

San Diego State University

Office of Education Opportunity Programs & Ethics Affairs, Student Services East 2109, 500 Campanile,

San Diego, CA 92182, (P)619-594-4299

University of California, Santa Barbara

Division of Student Affairs, Santa Barbara, CA 93106

RenaissanceScholars Program

The Renaissance Scholars Program aims to improve the graduation rates of former foster youth attending collegeby collaborating with other university departments and community organizations to provide support services that fosters holistic growth and development. The Renaissance Scholars Program is available at various postsecondary institutions in California. A few institutions are noted below:

California State University East Bay

25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., SF Building Suite 202, Hayward, CA 94542, (P) 510-885-4426

California State University Fresno State

5150 N. Maple Ave., M/S JA 62,Fresno, CA 93740, (P) 559-278-1787

California Polytechnic State University  (Cal Poly Pomona)

Student Support & Equity Programs, 3801 West Temple Avenue, Pomona, CA 91768 (P) 909-869-3169

Illinois Resources for Foster Care Alumni

In Illinois, there are a range of supports and programs to create postsecondary pathways for foster care youth. Participating current and former foster care youth receive academic and career counseling, mentoring, life-skills training, housing support among a variety of other services. Below is a list of programs, services and supports that are actively advancing foster care alumni through bolstering postsecondary access, retention, degree completion, and successful transition to adulthood.

Illinois College Preparatory Programs for Foster Youth

●             First Star Academy

First Star Academy is a nationwide, four-year college and career preparatory program that provides high school foster youth with holistic, long-term academic and personal support to foster self-sufficiency through college and career achievement. The program offers monthly activities that focus on academics, life skills, and caregiver engagement and a residential summer immersion program at the hosting university. Currently, there are two First Star Academies located in Illinois:

First Star Illinois State Academy                                           First Star Loyola Academy

Illinois State University                                                            Loyola University Chicago

Normal, Illinois                                                                           Chicago, Illinois

Joel McReynolds, Program Director                                    Bridget Couture, Program Director

●             Foster Progress

Based in the Chicagoland area, Foster Progress aims to increase educational attainment among high school foster care youth while assisting in their successful transition to adulthood. Through mentorship, advocacy, and educational access, Foster Progress provides supportive programs and activities to help foster youth earn a college degree.

Foster Progress

4422 N Ravenswood Ave
Chicago, IL 60640


●             Project STRIVE (Strategies to Rejuvenate Interest & Value in Education)

Targeting youth who have experienced trauma and neglect, STRIVE helps Illinois foster youth ages 14-21 transition into adulthood. In collaboration with Youth Guidance, Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (IDCFS), and Chicago Public Schools, STRIVE participants engage in social and educational enrichment field trips, college tours, and one-on-one counseling.

           Project STRIVE by Youth Guidance

           Chicago, IL


●             Life Skills Program — Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

The Office of Education and Transition Services at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) hosts the Life Skills Program to help foster youth develop independent living skills while promoting economic and social self-sufficiency. In collaboration with IDCFS caseworkers, foster youth and caregivers create an individualized transition plan and establish time-sensitive goals for the foster youth. Upon completion of the life skills program, foster youth receive a $150 stipend (IDCFS, 2020C).

Federal and State-Level Financial Aid for Postsecondary Education

Below is a list of financial aid programs available to foster care youth in Illinois:

  • Foster Care and Legal Guardianship Verification

    In order to receive financial aid for college, students are required to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). On the FAFSA application, look for the question, “At any time since you turned 13, were both of your parents deceased; were you in foster care; or were you a dependent or ward of the court?” If you responded “yes” to this question, you:

    • will be classified as an “independent” student, which will increase eligibility to receive maximum financial aids for your postsecondary education; and
    • may be required to provide documentation of your status. However, if necessary, your social worker can provide the required documentation needed to receive financial aid.

      Your initial FAFSA application should be completed beginning October 1st of your senior year of high school and then again, every year while in college. Student must complete the FAFSA application to qualify for:

      • Federal Pell Grant(s) Program is federal funding that is distributed based on financial needs. Students with experience in foster care at any point after age 13 may be eligible to receive the maximum Pell Grant.
      • Illinois Monetary Ward Program (MAP Grant) can only be used in-state (Illinois college or university). Students who are currently in foster care, or were in foster care at any time after the age 13, should receive the maximum MAP Grant. However, Illinois MAP grant is awarded on a first come, first served basis, so students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA application as soon as possible beginning October 1st.
      • Chafee Educational and Training Voucher (ETV) Program

For more information about ETV Program, contact DCFS Office of Education and Transition Services • 2001 NE Jefferson Ave., Peoria, IL 61603 Phone: 309-671-7969.

  • Illinois Department of Children & Family Services

DCFS scholarships noted below are not accessible through filling out the FAFSA application. However, students are required to complete the FAFSA prior to applying for the noted scholarships. Please note: each program has a separate application.

  • Tuition and Fee Waiver Program is available for eligible students attending Illinois public universities or in-district community college. Download Tuition and Fee Waiver application. Mail the complete packet to: DCFS Tuition Waiver Program, 406 E. Monroe, Station #23, Springfield, IL 62701; or Email the complete packet to:
  • Youth in College/Vocational Training Program provides eligible foster youth attending college full time and not living with a foster parent with financial assistance for expense related to on campus or off campus housing, utilities, and other personal expenses. Download Youth in College/Vocational Training Program application.
Youth In Scholarship application is available January 1st of each year and is due by March 31st. Eligible youth in foster care may receive a full-tuition waiver for Illinois pubic college, plus additional benefits such as a monthly stipend and medical insurance until age 26. Download the Youth in Scholarship application. Mail completed packet to DCFS Scholarship Program, 406 E. Monroe, Station #23, Springfield, IL 62701 or email to


Fostering Success Michigan - The New Foster Care

1615 S. Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Twp, MI 48302, (P) 248-716-0931

Four-Year Institutions with Campus-Based Programs for Foster Care Alumni

Aquinas College - Fostering Success Scholarship Program

1700 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids, MI 49506, (P) 616-632-2861 

Eastern Michigan University – Mentorship Access Guidance in College (MAGIC) Program

301 Peirce Hall, Ypsilanti, MI48197 (P) 734-487-0899 

Ferris University – Ferris Youth Initiative (FYI)

1201 S. State St., Big Rapids, MI49307, (P) 231-591-5962 

Grand Valley State University – Fostering Laker Success

1 Campus Dr., Allendale, MI49401, (P) 616-331-2748

Michigan State University – Fostering Academics, Mentoring Excellence (FAME) Program

655 Auditorium Road, Backer HallRm 34 & 36, East Lansing, MI 48824 (P) 517-353-5545

Saginaw Valley State University & Delta College –Fostering an Academic Successful Transition (FAST) Program

7400 Bay Road, University Center, MI 48710, (P) 989-964-7136

University of Michigan Flint - Mpowering My Success

285 University Pavilion, 303 E.Kearsley Street, Flint, MI 48502-1950, (P) 810-762-3219 or 810-424-5677

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor - Blavin Scholars Program

2101 Bonisteel Blvd., PierpontCommons Room – B420, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (P) 734-764-7420

Wayne State University – Champions Aspiring to Make Pathways to Success (CHAMPS)

5425 Woodward Ave., Ste. 101,Detroit, MI 48202, (P) 313-577-0063 or 313-577-0433

Western Michigan University – Center for Fostering Success & Seita Scholars Program

Seita Scholars Program, 1903Western Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008 (P) 269-387-8344

Two-Year Institutions with Campus-Based Programs for Foster Care Alumni

Lansing Community College - Fostering S.T.A.R.S.(Students Transforming, Achieving and Realizing Success)

411 North Grand Avenue, Lansing, MI 48933, (P) 517-483-1051

Northwestern Michigan College – Your NMC

1701 E. Front St., Traverse City, MI 49686, (P) 231-995-1118

Washtenaw Community College – The REACH Program (Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen)

4800 E. Huron River Dr., Ann Arbor, MI 48105, (P) 734-973-3572

Wayne County Community College District – Scholars Motivated to Advocate &Realize their Talents (SMART)

District Office: 801 W. Fort Street, Detroit, MI 48226, (P) 313-496-2704

Lake Superior State University – Fostering Futures Scholarship

650 W. Easterday Ave, Sault Sainte Marie, MI49783, (P) 906-632-6841