By: Krista Didzbalis '19
May is National Foster Care Month – a time to shine a spotlight on individuals that have had experience in foster care and the ways we can each play a role in enhancing their lives. The Price Family Fellows Program works to create a positive impact on the lives of Rutgers students who have had experience in the child welfare system. The program, which is administered through the School of Social Work's Institute for Families, provides support to students who may be experiencing financial difficulty and hardship while transitioning from the child welfare system. Funded by the Price Family Foundation since 2013, the Price Family Fellows Program offers financial resources and support for students as they progress through college, graduation, and life after Rutgers.
Adam Staats, Senior Project Coordinator for the Price Family Fellows Program, explains, “We are honored to serve an exceptional group of young people through PFF. Their hard work, persistence, resilience, and the support that they provide to each other is truly remarkable. As we work with our Fellows to promote academic achievement, professional development, and personal growth in their lives, we acknowledge the critical importance of involving them as the principal authorities and decision makers in planning their futures. The keys to their success lie within them, and it is our job to help them recognize and make the most of their unique skills and gifts, and to take full advantage of the opportunities that surround them at Rutgers and beyond.”
According to data presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, just three percent of students who have been involved in foster care graduate from college, making it one of the lowest performing demographics in the country. The Price Family Fellows Program supports this vulnerable group by providing valuable educational workshops, supportive one-on-one coaching, a laptop for academic and professional use, a textbook stipend to assist with the purchase of textbooks and class materials, and beyond.
"With every meeting, professional development workshop, and networking event I have attended, I have gained something to advance myself personally and professionally. We're given resources to learn to manage money properly, build our resumes, and schedule classes – all seemingly small tasks that I would have never been taught otherwise," says Mahogany Summers, a third-year social work major and Price Family Fellow. "But most importantly, I've gained strong connections with people who have experienced the same challenges as me."
The Price Family Fellows Program will continue to empower under-served students and provide a safe place where students feel supported and connected to others who have been involved in the child welfare system.