By: Taiyana Levy (Senn Sophomore)
Foster Progress (4422 N Ravenswood Ave.) is a non-profit organization that provides mentorship, advocacy, and educational opportunities to children in Illinois who are presently or have been in foster care to help them earn a college degree and effectively transition into adulthood.
A nonprofit organization’s mission is to improve the quality of life for others. These organizations are dedicated to the development of public interest rather than private or financial gain.
Kate Danielson, the founder of Foster Progress, said, “All of our money is donated either from individuals who care about this issue, foundations that give grants to nonprofits, or from the Department of Children and Family Services. We fundraise money from those different sources to pay salaries for employees, all our rent and utilities, our scholarships for students… all of our expenses.”
Foster Progress is a genuine, passionate organization that was founded purely out of love and a desire to help others. Kate Danielson said, “I love being a mom, the idea that some kids’ parents are abusing and neglecting them breaks my heart.”
They work with anyone who has experienced foster care at any time of their lives, open to people of all backgrounds and ethnicities. The organization has been around for six years now.
Kate Danielson started her career as a high school teacher in Chicago and
then worked at a college access program and later a mentoring program. She said, “When my husband and I became foster parents, I learned how few kids from foster care end up going to college and getting a degree–only about 3% nationally. I believe success in higher education can help young people have a better future – more options in life, a better paying, more stable, and more rewarding career. I want[ed] to make sure that youth from foster care have every opportunity for a successful and happy adulthood. I think the best solution to the lack of college access and success is to give each young person a dedicated mentor who will walk with them through the process of finishing high school strong, exploring and applying to colleges, lining up financial aid, and overcoming all obstacles along the way.”
They have a Mentoring and Scholarship Program for teens from foster care to do just that. They also have a Gap Year program called Traverse, where they teach workshops to educators, foster parents, and caseworkers about supporting the educational attainment of foster youth.
Youth who age out of foster care have very little support and have generally dire outcomes such as high rates of homelessness, early pregnancy, unemployment, and incarceration. Foster Progress’s goal is to increase the number of foster youth accessing and achieving higher education and living successful lives as adults.
Consider donating to Foster Progress because foster kids are worth investing in. Many are incredibly smart, but lack the opportunity or support needed to get into college; and through a phase of life that is already difficult, even if you have a traditional family structure–the transition to adulthood is difficult. When people donate to Foster Progress, they are helping to break a cycle of poverty, abuse, and neglect that plagues generations of families, that has a ripple effect throughout families and communities.
There are thousands of other nonprofits and organizations that deserve some recognition. Other small ones that come to mind are:
- Love Moves Us which is a supportive community for foster parents, Pursue Scholars which is a leadership development program for Christian teens going off to college
- Collective Initiatives Inc: a nonprofit organization focused on economic development in under-resourced communities.
Let’s give these organizations a chance and help change the world together.