Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2017

They come from various backgrounds and ethnicities; a veritable rainbow of color and ambition. And now that they’ve aged out of foster care, they’re looking to make their own way.

But, aging out of foster care is like stepping off a cliff – one day, your basic needs are covered and the next, you’re on your own. In most cases, you’ve had little or no preparation in finding a job or a place to live, let alone applying to college.

It’s at this point where Virginia’s Community Colleges’ Great Expectations (GE) program takes a bow.

The nine students featured in the photograph above are part of the GE program at John Tyler Community College. Earlier this month, the group got together with their coach – Vicky Muensterman (back row, far right) – to fashion paper Valentine’s Day hearts with personalized inscriptions, thanking those who’ve contributed to the program and, in the process, made their community college experiences possible.

The GE program, which is now in place at 18 of our 23 community colleges around Virginia, helps young people identify their skills, values, and interests, and matches them to higher education options. Our coaches help with college applications and securing financial aid. They also provide the essential supporting relationships that normally come from a student’s family. 

With your help, and the help of public and private partners like Capital One, Bank of America, the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation, the GE program can fulfill its mission of becoming a lifeline to adulthood for the scores of foster youth struggling to blaze their own trail.'

Craig Butterworth

A native of Richmond, Craig Butterworth is an award-winning broadcast journalist and communications professional. He has worked as a spokesperson, staff writer and editor for a variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations throughout the Richmond area.

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