St. Louis Graduates
Begun in late 2008, St. Louis Graduates (formerly the College Access Pipeline Project or CAP) is a consortium of St. Louis’ largest college access providers, as well as corporate and foundation funders, including the Trio Foundation of St. Louis The group came together because, while there existed in St. Louis a growing number of effective programs to help low-income students pursue college degrees, the efforts were fragmented. St. Louis Graduates is galvanized by a BIG goal: to increase the proportion of students in the St. Louis region who earn higher education degrees to 50% by 2020. More information about our work can be found at http://www.StLouisGraduates.org.
Aging Out of Foster Care
In 2006 a group of nine St. Louis funders began meeting around the issues that affect teens aging out of the foster care system. We were concerned about the trajectory for many of these youth. For example, more than half of all foster care teens in the St. Louis region either become homeless immediately upon leaving foster care or become homeless later in life. Less than half possess a high school diploma or its equivalent when they age out. After several years of study, these nine grantmaking organizations in St. Louis, desirous of collaborating to create a larger impact than any could individually, created the Aging Out Initiative. At that time the Initiative consisted of a three-year, $600,000 grant to create a centralized system where youth about to age out of foster care could receive support, guidance and resources.
The initiative garnered national attention, and in 2007 the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded a three-year, $500,000 grant to Epworth Children & Family Services to support its role as the lead service agency. During the first years of the Initiative, the focus was on three main goals for 200 youth ages 15-18:
- Teach youth to become better self-advocates, so that they can speak in court on their own behalf, secure employment, navigate the health system, and open bank accounts.
- Help youth obtain a high school diploma or GED.
- Assist youth in the creation of Life Binders, containing critical health and education records.
The formal collaborative ended in 2010, but the project continues to serve the original 200 in their growth and maturation into productive young adults. In fact, as of January 4, 2012, 130 youth out of 200 have graduated high school, which is 65% (compared to a baseline of 33-50%). The project also continues to bring in new young people in the early stages of their transition to independence. More information can be found at http://www.epworth.org/programs/aging-out.