Foster Greatness: Changing Lives, Connecting Communities
The Foster Greatness project empowers foster and systems-impacted youth through an innovative digital platform and transformative self-development program. By providing custom-tailored support, learning, and resources, this initiative equips participants with the knowledge and skills to thrive. With grant support, 120 young adults will complete the Master Class and 1000+ will join the Foster Greatness Digital Community in 2024. Our long-term vision is to scale this life-changing programming nationwide.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
County of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Pilot or new project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
Foster and systems-impacted youth face tremendous adversity. They are disproportionately impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), complex trauma, and a lack of supportive relationships. 50-87% of these youth have learning disabilities. 80% or more have a diagnosable mental health condition. Only 58% graduate from high school and fewer than 8% achieve a bachelor's degree by age 26. Half end up homeless or incarcerated and/or unemployed. And nearly 50% of all CA children in foster care reside in Los Angeles County. These young adults often face significant skill and opportunity gaps, limited access to stable food and housing, inadequate healthcare, and involvement in the criminal justice system. The unique experiences of foster care and ACEs contribute to low self-esteem, limited coping mechanisms, and a lack of emotional and practical support systems. Targeted interventions are crucial to addressing these needs and empowering them to overcome barriers and thrive.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
This grant will support a comprehensive and innovative approach to address the challenges faced by foster and systems-impacted youth within LA county and beyond. Funds will be used to develop The Foster Greatness Online Community, a digital platform for connection, growth, and support. The community emphasizes positive peer-to-peer engagement and access to resources. It features dynamic learning and personal-development content and tailored spaces for campus support programs. A Resource Specialist maintains a directory of relevant resources and facilitates crucial connections and referrals. The online platform also hosts The Foster Your Greatness Master Class, a one-of-a-kind self-development program designed to empower and equip this unique population with the knowledge, awareness, and skills to thrive. Built on the foundations of research and best practices and inline with Human-Centered Design principles, the Master Class combines 16 weeks of online learning activities created in partnership with the young adults they serve, trauma-informed credible messenger coaching, and the supportive digital community to foster self-determination, success mindsets, critical life skills, goal attainment, and holistic wellbeing. The Master Class and Foster Greatness Online Community will be field tested in partnership with SoCal colleges and universities in the 2023-2024 academic year, with strategic outreach and recruitment in LA county.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Our project will transform the lives of system-impacted individuals in LA and the outcomes and opportunities available to them. Our one-year goal is to empower over 100 participants through the Master Class and Online Community, boosting their confidence, life skills, and overall well-being. In the long term, we strive to establish a sustainable support system beyond the scope of the grant. Our vision includes scaling the program throughout the state, building a network of partners and advocates, and catalyzing positive outcomes for foster youth across LA. Through the online community, we aim to foster lasting connections, provide ongoing resources, and expand our reach. Ultimately, we envision an equitable future where early life experiences don't limit success. By addressing challenges and providing tailored support, we aim to create a Los Angeles where foster youth can pursue higher education, secure stable employment, contribute meaningfully to their communities, and thrive.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Our program fosters growth and well-being in 8 life domains (mental & physical health, housing & transportation, life skills, education, employment, identity, finance, relationships & community) and success indicators such as growth mindset, self-esteem, empowerment, purpose, and belonging. Participants complete validated pre- and post-surveys measuring confidence and skill levels across 51 impact markers, with significant improvements observed. Our spring 2023 program pilot, which had an 84% retention rate, showed increases in 96% of the impact markers, along with a 20-30% average increase in key areas like self-confidence, life skills, and communication. We prioritize and incorporate user feedback, which has been overwhelmingly positive, with all 16 learning activities rated 4.5 or above (out of 5). Our ongoing collaboration with lived-experience research consultants aims to establish the Master Class as an evidence-based program through program evaluation, research, and publication.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 1,200
Indirect Impact: 180,000