New and Expanding Educational Initiatives Coming this Year for Students in Foster Care

Written by:
Reïna Y. Batrony Cine, LMHC, Vice President, Community Based Services
Joni Rivera, MSEd, Assistant Vice President, Educational Services

For years, education has been at the forefront of our work at The New York Foundling. In fact, it’s a promise we make to each child we serve in our Foster Care programs. Through our collective work opening Mott Haven Academy Charter School in 2008, designing a one of a kind tutoring program in 2014, and creating a college success initiative with CUNY and ACS in 2016, we have remained focused not only on the safety and well-being of those who walk through our doors, but on education and the bright future it holds.

We are excited for what’s in store for the students we work with across New York City.

One of our biggest initiatives for 2021 is expanding the reach of Road to Success. This work began last year and is growing even more. We are now tutoring students in kindergarten, elementary school, and middle school. Our Afterschool Allies program, which began in 2019 as a small pilot program serving grades K-5, has now been folded into Road to Success, which will allow us to double our enrollment of elementary-aged students—from close to 25 to 50 students—by December of this year. A student’s ability to read at grade-level is strongly predictive of their future academic success, and we’re excited to reach more children once they enter kindergarten. The sooner we close the learning gaps that we often see with children who enter foster care, the sooner we can improve academic outcomes as they enter middle school, high school, and plan for college.

Additionally, we launched Road to Success Citywide with the goal of providing a long-term tutor to every 7th–12th grade student in foster care across New York City (making our efforts city-wide!).  As a member of Fair Futures, a city-wide coalition of social services agencies that provides coaching, mentoring, and advocacy for children in foster care from middle school through age 26, we hope to reach more young people in the years ahead. If we can secure enough funding from the City, the Fair Futures initiative will be a gamechanger for all teenagers and young adults in foster care. Both Road to Success and Road to Success Citywide were founded in partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation—a steadfast supporter of The Foundling since 2013.

Another new initiative planned for 2021 is a 12-week STEM program for students in grades 6-12 who are enrolled in any of our tutoring programs. Participants will complete virtual classes each week to learn computer literacy skills, including how to code and create digital art. In the final weeks of the program, students will take the skills they learned to work on a project for their college portfolio – from the creation of a game to digital artwork.

We believe that the path to a better, brighter future for children in foster care is with education. 2020 was a challenging year, yet our students continued to grow, showing a testament to their perseverance and the efficacy of Foundling-run educational programs. We look forward to seeing even more success this year—and in the years to come.

The Foundling’s tutoring and educational support programs for young people in foster care are generously supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Foster Care Excellence Fund in The New York Community Trust, Solon E. Summerfield Foundation, Blanche T. Enders Charitable Trust, and Con Edison.
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