When Ali graduated from college this year, she decorated her cap with a special message.
“I chose to put ‘defying the odds’ on my graduation cap because statistically, I shouldn’t have even gone to college, let alone graduate,” Ali said. “But I did both!”
Ali entered the foster care system in Tennessee when she was 14 after her parents’ arrest on drug charges. Nationally, only about 3% of young people who experience foster care go on to graduate from four-year college programs.
Youth Villages began YVScholars to change those odds for young people in our programs. Ali is one of 100 young people who received extra support from Youth Villages designed to help ensure that they not only enter college or vocational training programs, but they also achieve their degrees.
All YVScholars also participate in LifeSet, our comprehensive, evidence-informed program that helps young adults who have experienced foster care develop the skills they need to become successful adults. LifeSet is one of the largest programs serving this population in the country and one of the only programs of its kind to show multiple positive impacts in a large, randomized clinical trial.
The LifeSet program helped Ali get an apartment, create a monthly budget and apply for financial aid for college.
She graduated from Austin Peay State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in May 2019. She also got married to her long-time boyfriend, adopted a dog named Hercules and got her first job.
Ali’s come full circle. She’s now a case manager with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services in Montgomery County helping children in the foster care system.