March 28, 2011

UW Champions Program Serving Foster Care Youth and Alumni

By Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity

In June of 2009, Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, the Vice President of Minority Affairs and Vice Provost of Diversity, charged Jennifer Schoen and Maddy Day with the task of developing a program aimed to serve foster care youth and alumni at the University of Washington.

Less than one year later, Schoen, Manager of the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity’s Student Outreach and Pre-College Programs, and Day, a current master’s of social work student, officially launched the UW Champions Program. This on-campus recruitment and retention program focuses on the promotion and success of youth and alumni of foster care in postsecondary education and currently provides one-on-one support, community building activities, and educational advocacy to approximately 30 undergraduate students at UW.

(left to right) Maddy Day, Jennifer Schoen and Melissa Raap

Since its inception, the UW Champions Program has quickly gained momentum and support from students and the community. Melissa Raap, practicum student with the School of Social Work, joined the program as the retention specialist in June of 2010.

Over the last year, program representatives have been invited to present best practices on working with youth and alumni in foster care at the Washington State Passport to College Conference, the National College Access Network National Conference, the National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices Conference, the California Foster Youth Education Summit, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Conference and the Association of College Personnel Administrators Conference.

A group of students at the First Annual Future Champions Invitational

In September, the UW Champions Program began the recruitment side of the program in earnest, hosting the First Annual Future Champions Invitational. Through generous donations from the College Success Foundation and the Husky Football Program, 27 youth in foster care from high schools in the King and Pierce County areas came to the UW campus for a two-day recruitment event. So far this year, the program has brought roughly 60 middle school, high school, and community college students in foster care to the UW campus for various recruitment events.

In an effort to build a holistic network of support for youth and alumni of foster care, the UW Champions Program is overseen by an advisory board. The Board of Champions includes members of the community, as well as staff and faculty across campus.

For more information about the UW Champions Program or future events, please email uwchamps@uw.edu or call (206) 303-9062.

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