BOERNE – Only 45% of foster children ever graduate high school or get a GED.
That's why it's important to acknowledge the 500 foster kids across Texas who are graduating this year.
This unprecedented time has made it difficult for those students to be celebrated, so during National Foster Care Month, two driven teenagers are asking for the community's help.
They want families to "adopt a foster senior."
Many Texans know 18-year-old Allie Graves as Miss Texas Outstanding Teen, but few know her story of neglect and abuse, beginning at birth.
"I was born in Galveston and my parents abandoned me there," she said. "I went into foster care until I somehow through the courts ended up with my biological father's family. I was neglected on a daily basis. A family member walked in and saw me being abused and immediately called the authorities."
At six years old, Graves was finally adopted into a loving family.
Her advocacy for foster kids led her to Hunter Beaton, a Boerne teen who has been featured on KSAT for his work, donating over 30,000 bags and backpacks to foster youth beginning 2016.
Boerne teen creates charity donating bags to foster children to carry their belongings
Three out of Beaton's four siblings are adopted foster children.
"They often are given a trash bag to place their clothes in, or whatever items they have in their possession," Beaton explained.
That’s why he founded the nonprofit Day 1 Bags, working with a local bag company to donate high quality duffel bags and backpacks to foster kids.
Beaton and Graves know as foster kids graduate high school, they are usually aging out of the foster care system which makes their future scary and uncertain.
They want the almost 500 foster teens are graduating from high schools across Texas this year to feel loved and supported as they mark an important milestone.
They're asking their communities to virtually adopt a 2020 senior from foster care by donating money.
"Adopting a senior, that's a beautiful phrase especially for these foster youth who are looking simply for adoption," Beaton said.
Beaton and Graves will give at least $100 in gift cards and a free bag to every one of those 500 foster grads. Money donated will go to foster grads in that specific region.
"I just want these kids to know they're not defined by their circumstances and that they're loved by their community," Graves said.
They have already raised thousands of dollars and hope to raise even more in their final weeks of fundraising.
To donate, community members can head to the “Adopt a 2020 Senior from Foster Care” Facebook page. At the top right of that page, under the cover photo, is a blue “Sign Up” bottom. Click that and fill out the Google donation form.
The deadline to donate is June 1.