Local colleges and Bexar County team up to improve graduation rates for foster youth

UTSA, Texas A&M San Antonio and Alamo Colleges participating in pilot program

A county pilot project helping foster children has been successful for UTSA.
A county pilot project helping foster children has been successful for UTSA.

SAN ANTONIO – Navigating college can life be difficult for any student but more so for those who have aged out of the foster system and don’t have a support system like most.

A report by Texas Higher Education Foster Care Liaisons showed that though 80% of foster youth want to go to college, only 2% to 9% of foster youth will actually graduate with a bachelor’s degree. That’s compared to 32 percent of Texans who have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Those numbers — and the unique challenges faced by people who are in or age out of the foster system — are why Bexar County set up the Fostering Education Success Pilot Project.

Life after foster care was already tough. Now these Texans are facing the coronavirus pandemic, too

The program started last fall and has so far served over 200 students at UTSA, Texas A&M San Antonio and the Alamo College District.

“Things that we often take for granted from our support system, our family, our parents, our students don’t necessarily have that,” pilot director Airika Buford said. “The pilot is working very diligently to ensure that our students have those needs.”

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Despite the coronavirus pandemic, UTSA has 125 foster youth registered for the upcoming fall semester and they expect the number to continue to increase.

“We saw an increase of people reaching out to us and wanting to be involved specifically to access some of the resources that we do off, which include emergency funds and supervised independent living,” associate director of UTSA Fostering Education Success Center Emily Miller said.

The collaborative partnership looks to keep providing more opportunities for foster youth both academically and emotionally to succeed in college.

“We have a lot to offer and help make that transition and pathway as seamless as possible,” Buford said.

For more information about the pilot program or to sign up, you can visit their website.

About the Author:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter.