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Students raise funds for former foster youth studying at ASU

ProMod class PitchFunder campaign

A group of students hopes to help their peers with a PitchFunder campaign to raise emergency funds that help cover expenses and keep students in school.

February 22, 2016

Only 3 percent of former foster youth who attend college ultimately graduate.

Many times unexpected expenses are what stand between them and completing their degrees.

While some students can turn to their parents or guardians for help with buying books, financing medical bills and paying for unexpected expenses, college students who aged out of the foster-care system usually do not have that same type of financial support.

A group of Arizona State University students aims to solve that problem for fellow students.

As part of a new learning pilot class called ProMod, students in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions decided to create a PitchFunder campaign to raise funds. Their goal is $10,000 to create the Bridging Success Emergency Fund.

The money will go to the Bridging Success program, which was launched last year to help former foster youth — both current and prospective students — pursue and finish their college education. The Arizona foster-care tuition waiver, a bill signed into law by former Gov. Jan Brewer in 2013, helps Arizona’s foster youth earn a college degree by offering free tuition. 

“We started this emergency fund because, although these students do receive financial aid and tuition, there’s still expenses that aren’t fully covered,” said Ernesto Hernandez, one of the students running the campaign.

These expenses include online course fees, book fees, hospital bills, rent increases, transportation and other unexpected payments that students’ tuition and scholarships might not cover.  

Cynthia Alaffa, a student in the Bridging Success program, said that although her scholarship covered most of her finances, she knew other students who were in different situations.

“They’ve had excess fees, and some of those excess fees caused them to not re-enroll for the next semester,” she said.

The campaign has already raised almost half of the funds for its $10,000 goal, but the campaign has just over a week left.

The money will expand the financial aid currently offered by the ASU Bridging Success program, which has continued to grow since its initial grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Trust. ASU’s Women & Philanthropy funded Bridging Success Early-Start to help support specialized programming for incoming freshmen. The overall goal is to connect students to resources and each other to help them persist in their education.

“The biggest thing is helping them feel connected,” said Bridging Success coordinator Justine Cheung. “And that’s what makes them stay and finish.”

The ProMod class is a project-based, modular learning class that applies what students learn in their degree programs to public service efforts benefitting the community.

ProMod student Anna Piper said, “It feels good to know that we are able to help former foster youth out and able to raise this money and actually make a difference for them.”

Learn more about the Bridging Success Emergency Fund PitchFunder campaign.

Written by Andres Guerra Luz