A new statewide program will support Ohio’s foster youth as they pursue a college education. The Ohio Reach program was recently established by the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) to carry forward this decade-long initiative.
ODHE is partnering with the Ohio Children’s Alliance to manage the program and take it to scale across all of Ohio’s public universities and colleges.
Ohio Reach equips campuses to identify and engage students who were formerly involved in foster care. The program offers supportive services to the colleges, a mentoring program for selected students, and even an emergency fund to help students overcome short-term crises such as securing housing during school breaks.
Nationally, only about 3% of former foster youth earn a degree from a four-year college or university, according to a 2011 study from the University of Chicago. The goal of Ohio Reach is to ensure every Ohio foster youth who pursues college is supported and equipped to earn a certificate or degree.
“We are committed to empowering former foster youth to earn degrees from community colleges and universities,” said Mark Mecum, CEO of the Ohio Children’s Alliance. “Former foster youth are bright, resilient, and are the future leaders of Ohio.”