Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Now entering its tenth year of helping young adults in Virginia make the transition from foster care to higher education and a successful life, the VCCS Great Expectations program has been honored by a national non-profit organization.

The Aging Out Institute (AOI), based in Harrisburg, Pa., created its National Awards Program to identify and share best practices with foster care professionals throughout the world. This was the institute’s inaugural set of awards, and the VCCS initiative was honored for the quality of its educational services to program participants.

Great Expectations is designed to help students who have come through the sometimes difficult experience of foster care. Young people enrolled in the program are paired with an adult coach, who works to assess the student’s skills and interests, and helps guide the student into higher education.

Coaches also help with practical matters, such as filling out applications, covering expenses, and arranging transportation between school, home, and work.

Great Expectations students gathered in Richmond in May to share research projects and success stories.

“Winning an AOI National Award is a significant accomplishment. With vetted peer judges and tough judging criteria, only deserving programs receive recognition,” said Lynn Tonini, Founder of Aging Out Institute.

“This national recognition is a tribute to the hard work of all of our Coaches who work so diligently to find the best and most appropriate higher education opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Rachel Mayes Strawn, program director at Great Expectations.

In its first ten years of operation, 16 percent of Great Expectations students went on to complete a two-year or four-year degree, twice the national average for similar programs serving foster care participants.

Great Expectations is now active at 21 of Virginia’s community colleges, and approximately 1,300 students are projected to participate in the program in the upcoming academic year.
To learn more about the Aging Out Institute and its inaugural National Awards, click here.

To learn more about the VCCS Great Expectations program, visit

Featured image: VCCS’s Great Expectations program has been helping young Virginians make the transition from foster care to successful adulthood since 2008.'

Jim Babb

Jim Babb works for Virginia's Community Colleges in the Office of Strategic Communications.

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