Cuyahoga Community College announced it has been awarded a grant to improve retention and graduation rates for students who arrived on campus after aging out of the state’s foster care system.
Studies show that former foster youth — who lack the safety net of family support — often struggle to complete college, according to a Tri-C news release. Only 9 percent earn a bachelor’s degree by age 26, a success rate less than half that of the general population.
“For too long this population has gone under the radar in post-secondary education,” said William Murray IV, coordinator of Ohio Reach, a nonprofit organization working to improve higher education outcomes for those who aged out of the state’s foster system.
Ohio Reach recently selected Tri-C for a three-year, $60,000 grant to address the issue.
“Having a program that will level the playing field for former foster youth is long overdue,” Murray said in the news release. “The commitment by Cuyahoga Community College is that start.”
Tri-C will use the grant to establish and operate a mentoring program to assist former foster children, said JaNice Marshall, the college’s associate vice president of access and community engagement.
The new mentoring program will begin this fall, Marshall said. The Cuyahoga Community College Foundation secured the grant to launch the program.
Approximately 1,000 former foster youth attend Tri-C, Marshall said. The college began working on targeted ways to assist this group in 2013, and a liaison dedicated to helping former foster care children can now be found on each campus.
“Without a family behind them, aged-out foster youth can find it pretty tough when they begin college,” Marshall said. “We’re trying to help them overcome any obstacles. We want them to look at Tri-C as family.”