Phasing Up to New Possibilities Program

Like many young adults, youth in foster care recognize the importance of a college degree to achieve productive, successful lives and fulfill their career ambitions. These young adults are often without financial support, peer support, guidance from mentors and quite simply – the availability of possibilities. The hurdles to achieve the education needed for their own personal goals, as well as the skill sets necessary to thrive as productive members in their communities, can be seemingly insurmountable.

The statistics for this population are as equally daunting. In 2009, approximately 424,000 children were in the child welfare system nationwide. African-American and Hispanic children represented 50% of all children in foster care. In North Carolina, reportedly 600 youths aged out of foster care in 2010 and 293 of those youths were African-American, a higher percentage than the national average. In Mecklenburg County, the most populous county in North Carolina and the home of Johnson C. Smith University, the number of youths exiting foster care and the child welfare system has increased over the past 10 years and the percent distribution of African-American youth has consistently been 76% or higher during that time.

At Johnson C. Smith University, we want to provide a secure environment for these young adults as well as provide possibilities – the possibilities that come from continued education, support, encouragement, guidance, financial assistance and security.

By leveraging its strengths – academic innovation, relationships and resources, and a reputation for social and civic responsibility – JCSU has developed a ground-breaking program: PhasingUp to New Possibilities. Embraced by the University, its faculty and its students, we are fully committed to easing the transition for youth aged out of foster care and supporting their unique needs and challenges as they rise from the stereotypes and labels placed upon them and enter a new phase upward.