Local nonprofit Fostering Youth Independence recently held a “Celebration of Everything,” its annual event appreciating the many volunteers who make such a difference in the lives of Santa Clarita foster youth, 19 of whom were celebrated for education milestones.
Approximately 150 people came together for FYI’s celebration, which thanked the organization’s 84 volunteers for all they do to support local foster youth, and also honored 18 new graduates: seven youth received high school diplomas, six received associate’s degrees, and five received bachelor’s degrees. Additionally, one achieved a pharmacy technician certification.
“The event this year is especially meaningful because it’s our five-year anniversary,” said Carolyn Olsen, FYI’s executive director and co-founder. “And during this time, we and our supporters have helped 120 foster youth in Santa Clarita with their education and other needs, working to overcome the challenges so many in the foster system face.”
A special highlight of the event was when scholarships were presented by The Rotary Club of Santa Clarita Valley to six associate’s degree graduates who are transferring to universities and nursing schools to complete their education.
Jason Downs, chair of Rotary Satellite Club, said his organization is deeply committed to empowering youth and that FYI’s support of local foster youth was a great match for their community support activities.
Olsen added, “Our youth have already been through so much, and to have persevered through this pandemic has been nothing short of amazing. That’s why we especially wanted to highlight the new graduates. To go through all of this, and to be able to graduate from high school or college, shows the strength and determination of these youth. We’re so proud of them, and will continue to cheer them on through their next journey.”
The graduation of FYI’s youth was described as especially impressive given that only 55% of foster youth graduate from high school. Outcomes for former foster youth are poor, with half becoming homeless or incarcerated within two years of aging out of the system. Only 4% go on to earn a bachelor’s degree, and rates of unemployment and poverty are high.
“FYI and our incredible Allies and volunteers are working hard to break this cycle for foster youth,” Olsen said.
FYI supports Santa Clarita’s transition-age foster youth (ages 16-25) with needed resources as they age out of the foster system and work to complete a post-secondary education to prepare to become successful, independent adults.
The organization welcomes donations to support their work with foster youth, and these can be submitted by visiting www.fyifosteryouth.org or contacting FYI at 661-360-1500.