As we begin to assemble our beta group for online 'virtual' academic team building, we are reminded of how so many foster kids feel as they face the challenge of academia without the encouragement of parents and teachers in so many cases. You see, they have heard so many times about their failures that they have a difficult time setting goals - and believing in themselves. In most cases the foster parents care far more than the kids 'feel', but the kids live every day with scars from abandonment, abuse or, at best, apathetic support from their biological parents.
The idea of being part of a team where potential becomes a lifestyle rather than a dream is difficult for many of these kids in any endeavor, but especially in academic achievement. Start 2 Achieve, through our Academic Fitness Network, raises the bar and the results. This past school year we saw a small cadre of foster kids in Colorado and Iowa hold out their hand and accept their diplomas on their road to a more challenging and rewarding future.
TBC (We are awaiting permission to share a couple of their success stories).
What do Foster Kids want from their education experience? The same thing we all long for - in education, work, home and play. They want Meaningful relationships which help encourage them to reach their fullest potential.
Because of his size, Aaron Rodgers was not offered a football scholarship to any college following high school graduation. But he continued to believe in himself and was 'discovered' by California after one year of junior college success. Most foster kids understand the feeling of being overlooked - regardless of their potential academically.
The Academic Fitness Network (AFN) offers foster kids the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships which will see them through high school and beyond. Preliminary trials of our online network shows that even on the internet these students can create the kind of relationships they need to achieve their academic potential.
Start 2 Achieve is now in the final stages of committing to the delivery system which will open AFN doors that foster kids can take advantage of for years to come - even as they enter their chosen careers. One of the barriers we seek to overcome will be the availability of 'netbooks' or 'smart pads' for every student as the key to keeping the doors open. Most of the foster kids carry their 'possessions' around in a box or duffel bag as they are shuffled from agency to agency and home to home. These compact 'computers' will be easier for them to connect and keep with them as they follow their placements and still be a part of their AFN Team.
Even though we are based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, AFN will soon be able to reach students wherever they are and train workers/volunteers in the same locales. By June we should have our first online virtual group and will accept applicants from around the country. As former foster parents we know what this support migh also mean for the other foster parents and plan to expand the network to include them in their own AFN sub groups.
Thank you for your continued support and interest.
State by state education reform takes shape, but nothing of any consequence is being offered for Foster Kids. Now working with several judicial officials and agencies, our Academic Fitness Network (AFN) is gaining ground on bringing Academic Coaching to Foster Kids who lack the parental support and advocacy which is so essential for graduation and post secondary education.
As we create a 'virtual' meeting room online, we will be able to service Foster Kids wherever they live and have access to high speed internet. In cooperation with numerous agencies, AFN has revised our Academic Team curriculum to make certain it complies with laws which require that Foster Kids have a proven Independent Living Plan in place at and beyond age 16.
By summer 2011 we project at least 350 Foster Kids will be enrolled in our 'virtual' team meetings and well on their way to raising their academic achievement and graduating from high school on time.