Each year nearly 700 kids age out of the Georgia Foster Care program to begin creating their own path for independence. For some, that may include attending college or trade schools. But even for dedicated students, funding remains an obstacle for most. A new fund has been created to help alleviate some of the financial burden faced by these students formerly in foster care. The Fostering Education Scholarship Fund was created through a partnership of three caring individuals who came together with a shared passion for helping this underserved group.
Everlean Rutherford and Isaiah Wilcox know a lot about Georgia’s foster care system. Everlean and her husband have been foster parents and have adopted children from the system, while Isaiah was a part of the Foster Care system as a youth. Their passion for helping these kids led them to create an organization called Village Connection which works with DFCS case workers and children in foster care. For the children, they provide backpacks known as “Love Bags” which are used during transitions between homes. These bags were conceived to replace the trash bags which were frequently used to transport their belongings in the absence of better options. Love Bags contain toys, books and toiletries for added support. They have also assisted caseworkers with donations of much needed items like masks and gloves.
Melissa Conti is a community leader and is co-founder and president of Innovative Fitness in Kennesaw. With a strong commitment to philanthropy, Melissa’s love of filling community needs led her to collaborate with the Goshen Valley Boys Ranch in Waleska. This is where she learned about the needs of young adults aging out of the Foster Care system. “I think most of us take for granted all the little things that are needed to support students in college. There is so much more than tuition and book payments. There are many incidentals that come up like fees and school supplies, not to mention living expenses. And when you have a family supporting you, you have a safety net. These young adults don’t have that. So I want to help alleviate some of the obstacles to their success. A scholarship to help assist with their tuition can take away some of their heavy financial burden.” Through CCF, she was put in contact with Everlean and Isaiah who had a vision for this form of support. The three of them agreed on the concept and on the ability to get financial support, and the Fostering Education Scholarship Fund was created.
The purpose of the Fostering Education Scholarship Fund is to provide scholarships to students who have aged out of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services System who are pursuing an undergraduate degree. These additional resources are offered as a means to assist these students to achieve their academic goals, and to give them hope for a better future.
If you would like to support this mission, please consider donating to this fund.