Supporting the success of our students in foster care or with history in foster care is a top priority for CUNY.  Currently there are several initiatives that provide supportive pipelines into and through CUNY degree programs. These include:

The SEEK/College Discovery Youth Matter program

Funded by the State of New York beginning in FY16, Youth Matter offers a structured support system to foster youth who are currently or were formerly in care, orphans and wards of the court who are enrolled in CUNY’s SEEK and College Discovery (SEEK/CD) programs. Youth Matter provides access to academic, social, financial, and psychosocial support above and beyond the support students receive from SEEK/CD. In its first year of program operation, Youth Matter identified approximately 70 SEEK/CD students for participation in the program and began providing services and anticipates 70-80 students in FY17. Youth Matter students are eligible to receive the following services and resources: access to a full-time social worker, MetroCards, summer or extended day campus meal vouchers, winter/summer tuition (for one course), Single Stop screening for benefits and services, access to an emergency fund (limited resource), life coaching by a mental health practitioner, social/cultural workshops and events, and a laptop and printer loaner program. Thanks to additional support from NYS, funding for Youth Matter is expected to increase from $450,000 in FY16 to $900,000 in FY17. Additional funds will be used to serve more students, provide year-round room and board for selected students, and cover other unmet cost-of-attendance needs.

SEEK/CD are CUNY’s opportunity programs and were 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. SEEK/CD students receive one-on-one personal, academic and career counseling, financial assistance in the form of extra semesters of New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), textbook stipends, and student activity fee waivers. Students also receive extra academic support, including pre-freshman summer classes that help prepare students for college courses, professional tutoring, and consolidated course schedules.
For more information about SEEK/CD click here.

The CUNY/ACS Fostering College Success Initiative

Funded by the City of New York beginning in FY17, this is a college residential support program for youth in care through a partnership between CUNY and the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). The program includes a comprehensive dormitory program for youth in foster care attending CUNY, sited in the Queens College Summit Residence Hall and the CSI Dolphin Cove residence. Students in the program, who may attend any CUNY college, are intended to receive wrap-around individualized services, including tutoring, mentoring, and academic advising within the dormitory setting. ACS provides the funding for the program and contracts with not-for-profit entities, such as New York Foundling, to provide the wrap-around services.  The program is scheduled to serve 50 students in FY17 and it is expected to grow to 200 students by FY20.

The CUNY Start/ASAP Foster Care Initiative

Funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the CUNY Start/ASAP Foster Care Initiative provides a supportive pathway from CUNY Start into Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) at eight colleges: Borough of Manhattan, Bronx, Hostos, Kingsborough, LaGuardia, Medgar Evers, Queensborough, and Staten Island. Students with significant remedial needs enter CUNY Start then transition to ASAP; students with little or no remedial needs may enter ASAP directly. Strategic partnerships have been established with 12 foster care agencies and intermediaries across the City to create a streamlined referral process and to coordinate support for students while they are pursuing their degrees at CUNY.

In addition to the robust program services provided by CUNY Start and ASAP, Initiative students receive assistance with the CUNY admissions and financial aid process; CUNY application and CUNY Start fee waivers; Metrocards for CUNY Start participation; additional support with the transition to college by trained engagement liaisons; paid, on-campus internships; additional winter and summer tuition; cultural and social events, especially on weekends and school breaks.  Up to 15 students/year who attend College of Staten Island have the opportunity to secure a year-round dorm slot in the CSI Dolphin Cove residence. The Initiative also includes a research and evaluation agenda led by the CUNY Office of Research, Evaluation and Program Support (REPS). This work includes evaluation and research on the outcomes of the Initiative and research on foster youth in general, with a focus on the CUNY context. The CUNY Start/ASAP Foster Care Initiative launched in spring 2016 with 25 students and will serve 100 students in FY17 with a total of 325 youth in care will be served over the next four years thanks to support from the Hilton Foundation in the amount of $2.5 million.
For more information visit the Foster Care Initiative website.

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) Comprehensive Assistance and Retention Empowerment Services (CARES)

BMCC CARES provides a guided pathway for students who are currently or have been in foster care by strengthening students’ relationships with one another and with the college. Any student who fits these criteria is able to participate in social events at BMCC that help create relationships with other students who have shared similar experiences. These students get to know their classmates, develop supporting relationships, and make friendships through BMCC CARES’ social events. BMCC CARES offers a specially trained staff member in more than ten BMCC offices including ASAP, College Discovery, Financial Aid, Single Stop, and the Counseling Center. These points of contact allow BMCC to provide a comprehensive suite of services for students with history in foster care. BMCC CARES is able to provide coordinated access to program and financial, social, and academic resources that can help students achieve their educational goals. The program is managed by the BMCC Office of Student Affairs and served 50 students in FY16.

The First Star College of Staten Island (CSI) Academy

CSI will be the first Institution in CUNY as well as in the State of NY to house the First Star CSI Academy beginning in fall 2016. CSI and the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) collaborated to bring this program to the College. The Office of the Vice President for Student & Enrollment Services will provide oversight of the day-to-day operations of this program, supporting the program director.

ACS will identify students from local foster care agencies to participate in the program with an objective of inviting approximately 30 rising 9th graders to participate. This will be a four-year commitment on the part of the student as well as CSI and ACS. Students will come to campus one Saturday a month during the academic year to participate in academic and life skills programs specifically geared toward them. The students will live in the Residence Halls during the month of the July to get the full experience of college life while participating in academic and life skills programs as well as social events during the month. There will be 8-10 mentors living in the Residence Halls with students. The Academy is currently supported by ACS, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and New Yorkers for Children.

First Star, Inc. began the Foster Care program in 1999 in response to some dismal statistics, less than 50% of foster youth complete high school and less than 3% finish College. First Star has opened Academies around the country from California to Florida to Rhode Island.
Students in foster care need advocacy and this is a goal of the First Star CSI Academy.
For more information click here.

The CUNY Foster Care Collaborative

The CUNY Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs has created the CUNY Foster Care Collaborative, which holds regular convenings of CUNY key staff and foster care agencies and advocates from across the City to discuss ways to improve the college transition and success of foster care youth at CUNY. The Collaborative has also created a one-stop website detailing a range of CUNY resources, program, services, and supports available to students in care at CUNY.