CUNY’s Foster Youth College Success Initiative, seeks to implement a structured support system to help foster youth in CUNY’s SEEK and CD programs.

CUNY’s new Foster Youth College Success Initiative, Youth Matter, seeks to implement a structured support system to help SEEK and CD youth with a history in foster care as well as Orphans and Wards of the Court,  by providing access to academic, social, financial and psychosocial support above and beyond the support they receive from SEEK and CD.

History and Purpose

SEEK and College Discovery are the opportunity programs at CUNY established to provide comprehensive academic support to assist capable students who otherwise might not be able to attend college due to their educational and financial circumstances. In 2015, New York State invested $1.5 million into the 2015-2016 budget for the Foster Youth College Success Initiative (FYCSI) designed to help youth with a history in foster care, as well as, Orphans and Wards of the Court, in the opportunity programs at CUNY, SUNY, and private colleges’ successfully complete college. On April 1, 2016, New York State doubled that amount, investing $3 million for 2016-2017 and increased to $6 million for 2017-2018. In its first year of program operation, Youth Matter began providing services for approximately 67 SEEK and CD students identified for participation in the program. Youth Matter currently serves approximately 105 students.


Any SEEK and College Discovery student that identify as:

  • currently or previously in foster care (at least at the age of 13),
  • ward of the court, or
  • orphan.

are eligible for the Youth Matter program


Through the fulfillment of their educational goals, Youth Matter’s mission is to uplift the lives of students who are orphans and youth impacted by the foster care system. With specialized guidance, empowerment, and support, Youth Matter helps them achieve and expand their individual potential while propelling them to a better future for themselves, their community, and the world.


Youth Matters’ vision is for orphan and foster youth’s educational success rate in New York State to proportionally reflect that of generally admitted students in their respective universities. Providing student-centered services, integrated learning, and psychosocial support, Youth Matter aims to become the blueprint for orphan and foster youth support in the NYS education system.

Program Model

At CUNY, we believe a student’s success is achieved by supporting them in a holistic manner. Similar to SEEK and College Discovery, the Youth Matter program supports students financially, academically and socio-emotionally. Currently, students are provided with financial assistance to cover the costs of metrocards, meals, intersession tuition and housing.  We also connect students to Life Coaches who will work individually with the student on his/her personal, professional, and career development aspirations.

We Value


Youth Matter respects and engages the individual experiences, voices, and identities of orphans and youth with a history in foster care.


Youth Matter operates with a level of trust between students, staff, and coaches. Any information shared by a student is kept confidential and will never be shared without the student’s permission.


Youth Matter continuously contributes to and improves the child welfare community through innovative partnerships and ground-breaking programs.

Our Goals

  • Increase student success and academic excellence through student-centered instruction and student-centered support services.
  • Increase equity in successful outcomes by analyzing gaps in student achievement and leveraging the results to identify and implement effective models and programming to remedy these gaps.
  • Improve student academic performance by providing access to academic support features including tutoring and coaching.
  • Increase the retention of orphan and foster youth students in CUNY.
  • Increase the program completion and college graduation rate of orphan and foster youth students in CUNY.