ECHO: Erin’s Voice: Education can be a pipeline to success.

At The Orchards, September means back-to-school. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, Orchards was able to create a scholarship program in May of 2013. High school seniors, connected to Orchards through any one of our programs, were nominated by their OCS caseworker. In the first year, Orchards was able to support five students from foster care in their transition from high school to college.

The success of our pilot group of students exceeded our wildest dreams. One student has earned an associate degree in Criminal Justice and four of our students are entering their junior year at universities across the state. Their majors include Business, Engineering, Nursing, and Social Work.

Education can be a pipeline to success and provide a better quality of life. The opportunity to attend college has been transformational for our scholars. Not only have they been challenged academically, but our students have been molded into leaders and advocates. Several of the Orchards scholars have traveled to Washington, D.C. and Orlando to attend conferences for youth leadership and foster care policy.

The anonymous donors have gifted over $265,000 to support the Orchards Promise Scholarship. For the 2015-2016 school year, Orchards is now supporting EIGHT students while they pursue their goals of higher education. We are so proud of ALL of our students and wish everyone a successful year of learning and growing!

Statistics for Youth Leaving the Foster Care System (and why Education is so important):

  • 70% of students from foster care report they want to attend college.
  • Fewer than 3% will earn a college degree by age 25.
  • Just half will be employed at age 24.
  • 1 in 4 will be incarcerated within two years of leaving foster care.
    (all statistics are from Casey Family Programs)

 

Erin Biddinger
Independent Living & Transitional Coordinator
Foster Care Case Manager
Orchards Children’s Services