Fostering Success Michigan is a statewide initiative that aims to increase access and success in higher education and post-college careers for students with experience in foster care.
Before you get to know us, please review FSM's Child Welfare in Education Fact Sheet! The Fact Sheet provides an overview of statewide and national issues in the education pipeline for students with experience in foster care. Readers of this document can expect to learn how many youth are in foster care, what financial benefits are being used, and what steps have been taken by FSM and other organizations to support youth with experience in foster care. Similarly, this document provides information on a national level, citing data about the number of youth in foster care, success in higher education, and the financial impact of foster care.
In 2012, through generous support from The Kresge Foundation, Western Michigan University, the Havirmill Foundation, and others, the Fostering Success Michigan statewide initiative was established to help increase college-going rates and successful career transitions among Michigan’s students from foster care by building a network of support on college campuses and within local communities. An initiative of Western Michigan University’s Center for Fostering Success, Fostering Success Michigan is leading Michigan’s collective-impact effort to increase access and success in higher education and post-college careers for Michigan’s students with experience in foster care ages 12 to 25. Fostering Success Michigan has become a state and national hub of resources and information for those who work with students from foster care ages 12 to 25 years old, resulting in a significant increase of knowledge, skill and social capacity of network participants.
Fostering Success Michigan will increase access and success in postsecondary education and post-college careers among Michigan's students with experience in foster care through the building of a holistic network that insulates (i.e., strengthens protective factors and reduces risks) the education to career “pipeline” for students from foster care. The Fostering Success Michigan Network participants include: students with experience in foster care, higher education professionals, child welfare professionals, community organizations, supportive adults, philanthropic support, and the business community.
Fostering Success Michigan is utilizing a Collective Impact Framework to address Michigan's need for large-scale social change in the area of students with experience in foster care and their access and success in higher education and post-college careers. The Collective Impact Framework employs five distinct conditions for social change: Backbone Organization, Common Agenda, Mutually Reinforcing Activities, Shared Measurement, and Continuous Communication.
As a collective impact backbone organization, Fostering Success Michigan employs three strategies: Resourcing, Supporting, and Networking. These strategies address the knowledge, skill and social capacity gaps that must be filled to create a sustainable education to career pipeline for students with experience in foster care. Fostering Success Michigan is a hub, supporting Michigan’s network of experts versus being an “expert organization”. Bringing together the combined energy and efforts from partners across the State of Michigan allows Fostering Success Michigan to identify areas where resources are lacking and collaborate with partners to fill these gaps.
Fostering Success Michigan has adopted the Lumina Big Goal of increasing the number of students from foster care who obtain high-quality degrees and credentials to 60% by the year 2025. By aligning ourselves with the Lumina Big Goal, Fostering Success Michigan is joining the Michigan College Access Network, and other stakeholders in the education arena, toward their efforts to achieve this goal.
Each partner in the Fostering Success Michigan Network plays a vital role in the education to career pipeline for youth and alumni of foster care. As a partner in the Fostering Success Michigan Collective Impact strategy, partners agree to work collaboratively and share best practices, knowing that the best solution in one community may need adaptation for success in another community, or may not fit at all.
A shared measurement strategy is being established through the collaborative efforts of the Fostering Success Michigan Higher Education Consortium (FSM HEC). FSM HEC participants utilize the 7 Life Domains model, adapted from Casey Family Programs “It’s My Life framework”, to monitor progress of success and provide a realistic understanding of how Michigan’s students with experience in foster care move to and through postsecondary education and into professional careers.
To ensure that our diverse group of partners maintains an awareness of successes, challenges, priority issues and shared solutions, FSM supports continuous communication through a variety of networking activities. These include the FSM Google Group listserv, FSM Monthly Newsletters, FSM Student Spotlights, and in-person networking opportunities. “Like” FSM on Facebook and “Follow” @FSMichigan on Twitter for up the minute info about child welfare and higher education.
Yvonne Unrau, Ph.D. is Professor of Social Work and Director of the Center for Fostering Success at Western Michigan University. Her work is dedicated to improving both service experiences and client outcomes for vulnerable children and families, especially those whose lives have been touched by foster care. “Dr. Yvonne,” so named by her students, enjoys learning new things and problem-solving life’s puzzles big and small. She moonlights as a yogi and yoga instructor to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Karie Ward is the Program Director for Fostering Success Michigan. She coordinates and oversees the Fostering Success Michigan Network and all programming. Karie is focused on the long term sustainability of the FSM Initiative as it transitions programming to The New Foster Care following the conclusion of the current WMU/Kresge Foundation grant. She began working for FSM as an MSW Intern and Graduate Assistant while attending WMU’s School of Social Work, graduating in 2015. Since joining FSM, she has produced over 70 webinars, 32 podcasts, facilitated 14 FSM Community Collaborative events and the 2015 FSM Summit. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her two energetic, hilarious children.
Linda is a Faculty Associate working with FSM as the Policy Analyst working on strategies related to sustaining FSM’s collective impact work. Strengthening macro practice and the reputation of the social work profession as leaders in solving complex problems is Linda’s passion. She believes every student should leave WMU School of Social Work with a strong network of people who will help them succeed. Before joining WMU in Fall 2015, Linda worked in state government as Director of the Center for Transformation, designing and implementing innovative approaches, Poverty Policy Director, and Federal Policy Director. Previously, she worked ten years in local, state and national groups focused on intimate partner violence and community organization.
Fostering Success Michigan is a statewide initiative that aims to increase access and success in higher education and post-college careers for youth with experience in foster care. Learn how you can contribute to building a holistic network that insulates (i.e., strengthens protective factors and reduces risks) the education to career "pipeline."Make a Donation