Foster Youth Scholarship Winners


VOA’s Dare to Dream scholarship program awards funds to 14 youth headed for college.

As the summer begins, we are happy to announce VOA’s Dare to Dream scholarship program has awarded funds to 14 youth headed for college. The scholars all have stories that will touch your heart.

  • Most survived an unstable home life,

    living with addicted and unstable parents, violence and abuse and the feeling of being alone and terrified. One scholar named Janna told us her mother often did drugs right in front of her. Once Janna tried to hide her mom’s crack pipe, hoping that if her mother couldn’t find it, she might stop using drugs. Several winners had to work hard to avoid falling in with gangs, which was especially difficult as the gang members were often the friends they grew up with in their own neighborhood. Janna’s mother finally overcame her addictions, only to be a victim of a shooting, and while she survived, the physical pain brought her back into the world of drug addiction.

    All these youth tried hard to survive in what seemed like a hopeless situation. Some were placed in as many as 11 foster homes. Joseph managed well with everything a foster youth endures, but at 18 found himself out on his own because his foster family no longer had a legal obligation to support him. Like many foster youth, Joseph didn’t have the skills to manage on his own, and ended up homeless.

  • How did they survive?

    One youth said it was helping raise his young nephew John, and wanting to show him what it looks like to work hard and succeed as young black man in America. Another said they knew their way out of poverty was education. Many of our scholars will be the first person in their family to graduate college, changing the path they thought they were destined to follow. Michael and Mathew found their way out through the discipline and team work of their high school football teams. Amanda said that her school was her safe haven, where she was able to excel in her studies.

“If it is up to be, it’s up to me.”

This year’s scholarship winners want so much to give back to their community when they graduate. One said “if it is up to be, it’s up to me” and many others expressed a similar sentiment. Amanda hopes to become a criminal justice attorney in child welfare to serve families and children who experience what she went through. Monica is already giving back to her community, acting as an advocate and peer support for other foster youth. There is a bright future for these young people, and Volunteers of America would like to thank the donors that made dreams come true for 14 these deserving youth in 2019.

Anyone interested in providing financial support for students in 2020, please contact Cynthia Shane Smith
Phone: 510.325.1107
csmith@voa-ncnn.org