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Wake Tech Program Guides Students Raised In Foster Care To Higher Education

A picture of a mortarboard hat and dipolma.

A program at Wake Tech Community College is working to help young people aging out of the foster care system transition into college.

Michelle Blackmon is the program coordinator for Fostering Bright Futures. She said kids often don't acquire the same life skills in foster care, or have the same support, that makes going to college easier for kids who grow up with family.

Fewer than 13 percent of students from foster care enroll in higher education, according to Casey Family Programs.

Blackmon said she works to build trust with Fostering Bright Futures students that help them stay on track.

“Having that point person, that one person that the students know that if they have an issue with anything, they have that person on staff that will be able to get them in the right direction or help them navigate what they need to do as far as the resources and stuff in the community,” Blackmon said.

Blackmon says Fostering Bright Futures partners with the Hope Center at Pullen. They connect the students with mentors who can coach them on life skills, including budgeting and looking for housing.

“The housing component is the biggest obstacle that we found with our students,” said Blackmon. “And what we found is that if they lose their housing, education is the last thing on their mind.”

Blackmon said five students have graduated Wake Tech through Fostering Bright Futures since it began in 2008. She says participants don't always graduate on the first try, but they know they can reach out to her when they're ready to try again.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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