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Aroe Talbot knows the odds are against her. “I didn’t think I would be able to come to college because of my past,” she says. Fewer than 3 percent of foster students who age out of the system go to college, and the majority who do drop out. Talbot is determined to make it.
In Arizona, former foster kids can go to college tuition-free, but there’s still the cost of room, meals, books, and other expenses—not easy for an 18-year-old who’s on her own.
A new program at Arizona State University gives students like Talbot a head start. The program, called Bridging Success, helps former foster youth apply for financial aid and scholarships, find a place to live, and learn about academic and other resources on campus.
“I didn’t think I would actually make it to ASU,” says Talbot, a freshman. “They showed me all these resources, funding, support systems like Bridging Success. And then it’s like, ‘Wow! I get help.’ ”
This year, twenty-eight Bridging Success students were given laptop computers. Debbie Hall, an ASU Foundation Women & Philanthropy member, worked with her employer, Insight Enterprises, to donate the laptops.
Hall and others also donated money to buy bedding for eleven former foster youth who arrived at their dorms without any. Most college freshmen have parents to assist with the transition; former foster kids do not. “We don’t want to let our past define who we are,” Talbot says.
“We are all kids that are trying to have the best future that we can.”