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Higher Education Day at UC Kicks Off Partnership to Support Foster Youth

The new partnership aims to reduce the number of high school dropouts and keep youth on track toward a higher education.

Date: 5/28/2009 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823

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The University of Cincinnati will host more than 100 young people in the Hamilton County foster care system as part of Higher Education Info Day at UC, starting at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 30, in Room 320 of UC’s University Pavilion. The event kicks off a new partnership to show foster children that future success in higher education is an attainable goal.

The partnership, called Higher Education Mentor Initiative (HEMI), is piloting a program aimed at curbing the high school dropout rate of foster children. The education-focused program will match high school seniors who are foster children with mentors, in efforts to keep young people who are aging out of the foster care system on track to successful futures.

As part of Higher Education Info Day at UC, the foster youth – sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school – will learn about college admissions and financial aid opportunities from UC representatives as well as partners representing Cincinnati State and Great Oaks. They’ll also get a tour of UC’s campus and learn about opportunities with the National Guard.

Representatives in the HEMI partnership include UC’s Partner for Achieving School Success (PASS) program in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH), the UC School of Social Work, Hamilton County Job and Family Services, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and Great Oaks Career Campuses.

Rayma Waters, project director for the PASS Supplemental Educational Services (SES) program, cites national figures that demonstrate the need for this partnership to support young people in foster care. A 2004 report from the Pew Commission found that every year, approximately 24,000 children around the nation age out of foster care. Twenty-five percent of them are incarcerated within the first two years of leaving the program, 20 percent become homeless and only 58 percent complete high school, compared with 87 percent of the general student population that complete high school. The partnership reports that in 2008, only three of 150 Hamilton County foster youth enrolled in high school moved on to pursue a higher education.

The HEMI pilot program is working to pair approximately 25 of Hamilton County’s foster youth entering their senior year in high school with a community mentor who will provide advice about higher education opportunities. Waters says the recruitment of those mentors is currently underway and will include students from UC’s School of Social Work as well as volunteers from the business community, faith-based organizations and retirees. Mentors will be trained by UC and Hamilton County Job and Family Services staff.

For more information about becoming a program mentor, call 513-556-0104 or e-mail

Higher Education Info Day Schedule

Saturday, May 30, University Pavilion, Room 320

  • 9 a.m. – Student Welcome, led by Rayma Waters, project director for the PASS Supplemental Educational Services (SES) program
  • 9:05 a.m. – Student welcome from Greg Hartmann, Hamilton County Commissioner
  • 9:10 a.m. – Introduction from Stephanie Cappel, executive director, PASS
  • 9:15 a.m. – Opening remarks from Mitchel D. Livingston, chief diversity officer and vice president of UC Student Affairs
  • 9:40 a.m. – Postsecondary education session, four year program, led by Jennifer Dillingham, UC Admissions officer
  • 10 a.m. – Presentation about the University of Cincinnati, led by Zakiya Collins, Admissions officer
  • 10:10 a.m. – Presentation about Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, led by Chuck Hatcher, adult and technical preparation admissions advisor, Cincinnati State
  • 10:30 a.m. – Break
  • 10:40 a.m. – Great Oaks presentation, led by Carol Klotz, Great Oaks adult workforce development supervisor
  • 11 a.m. – National Guard presentation, led by Sergeant First Class Michael D. Vanover
  • 11:20 a.m. – Cincinnati Works “Next Steps” Program and Foster Care Alumni of America
  • 11:40 a.m. – Lunch, Annie Laws, Teachers College Room 407
  • 1 p.m. – Campus tours
  • 1:30 p.m. – Financial aid assistance, University Pavilion, Room 340