Heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition

The Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund Aims to Help Students Formerly in Foster Care

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Image credit: Andrew Ebrahim/Unsplash

All qualifying students who apply by the June 30 deadline are eligible for a $3,000 scholarship.

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The Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund has been around since 2012, aiding students who have been in Michigan’s foster care system. The application deadline is June 30.

Robin Lott is the director of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning at the Michigan Department of Treasury. She spoke with WDET’s Tia Graham. Lott says the scholarship money is first come, first served.

Michigan Department of Treasury’s Robin Lott: We found out there were several listening sessions taking place throughout the state, where policymakers would hear directly from foster youth. And [we] came up with the idea that because the Michigan Education Trust at the time was trying to establish some type of charitable program, we thought this would be a perfect fit, because it helps students and youth that are in need of support to pursue higher education. So we partnered at the time with Maura Corrigan, who at the time was the director of DHS. And we went out and started doing some fundraising events to establish the scholarship. And then we went to the Legislature and had it further established by law to also provide for an endowment component. So that interest earnings from the endowed funds can also be used for scholarships. And we found that … since 2012, that many students have benefited. And we’re constantly trying to increase the awareness out there for those youth that might be eligible, but have not yet applied to receive the scholarship. So it has evolved since 2012.

We thought this would be a perfect fit, because it helps students and youth that are in need of support to pursue higher education.” Robin Lott, Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning at the Michigan Department of Treasury, on the scholarship program

Tia Graham, WDET: And what about the application process itself, what should students, qualifying students expect?

It is a first-come, first-served application. It is … the easiest application a student would ever fill out. It’s a one-pager; we just need to know that you were in the Michigan foster care system at the age of 13 or above and that you’re attending a Michigan college right now. There is a deadline of June 30 to apply for the scholarship. After that we we don’t really take any more applicants. If something happens, and maybe we don’t disperse all the funds, we might go to the backup list, so to speak. But basically all those that apply at June 30 and qualify for the scholarship is eligible for a $3,000 scholarship.

So you know, you began this process this program in 2012, next year will be 10 years now. So what would you like to see going forward, especially after a decade of work?

I would love to see us increase the scholarship. I think $3,000 is not bad. Because when we first started this in 2012, I think the average scholarship amount was probably $400. Until we really were able to increase the the fundraising component, I would love to see the amount of the scholarship be increased. It would be great to see this be a [$5,000] or $6,000 scholarship. And then I would also love to see additional sponsors come on board that can help us raise more funds. We get a little bit of state appropriation, but not enough to support the entire program. So it’s very vital for the survival of the program. If we can get more sponsors and people interested in either volunteering to help us raise money or t contribute to the program, we would love to see our ability to have folks donate the income tax form. Again, we were booted off of the form last year because we didn’t raise enough money two years in a row to stay on it. You can’t do less than $50,000 two years in a row or you get booted off the form. So we’re hoping that we can get back on that income tax form for charitable donations when you’re filling out your income tax. You can donate a portion of your refund to fostering so hoping that that would happen and just to see an increased beneficiary on the program. So I know there’s more students out there that could benefit so I’d love to see the number of students that we service be increased as well.


Listen: How the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund has evolved since 2012.


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Tia Graham, Host, Weekend Edition

Tia Graham is a reporter and Weekend Edition Host for 101.9 WDET. She graduated from Michigan State University where is had the unique privilege of covering former President Barack Obama and his trip to Lansing in 2014.


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