Inspiring nonprofit helps youth who ‘age out’ of foster-care system
Grant Thornton providing funding assistance, business advice and volunteer support
CHICAGO — Grant Thornton LLP has named Foster Nation as the seventh nonprofit in its Purple Paladins initiative — a program that helps emerging nonprofit organizations move from start-up to sustainable by providing funding, business advice and volunteer support, while also helping them raise awareness of their work and mission.
Foster Nation — which launched in 2016 in partnership with The Pritzker Foster Care Initiative and Foster Care Counts — helps former foster youth overcome the challenges associated with ‘aging out’ of the foster-care system. The goal is to help these young adults become self-sufficient and have the same opportunities for success as other youth.
The organization provides foster youth with financial resources, basic needs, social support and mentorship. Its efforts include ongoing campaigns that provide free meals and clothing for daily life and careers, as well as basics like hygiene products. These essentials are especially important in the face of COVID-19, which has increased the day-to-day challenges for foster youth, who were already reliant on places like colleges for secure food and housing.
Foster Nation partners with 44 colleges in the state of California and has volunteer collectives in Los Angeles and New York. It also runs social-awareness initiatives, such as its #SpeakUp series, to help break down stigmas and change the way the public think about former foster youth.
Looking ahead, the organization aims to pilot a career mentorship program in 2021 to tap into community allies and volunteers in the professional world so they can become resources and champions — opening doors in a range of careers and helping foster youth become self-sufficient adults.
Foster Nation was founded by Maggie Lin, a former foster youth who moved through eight different foster placements. She knows first-hand how critical support and resources are during the ‘aging out’ transition point. But she also knows her story turned out differently than many foster youth. Maggie transitioned to adulthood — earning a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College — in part because she had the right mentors and a foster family at her final home placement that supported and believed in her.
“For most young people, turning 18 is a moment of anticipation and potential — but what if it meant being turned out on the streets and losing the support you needed to start your life as an adult?” asked Brad Preber, CEO of Grant Thornton. “Foster Nation is tackling that fearsome prospect head on. It’s exactly the kind of effort our Purple Paladins program was designed to help. We look forward to contributing to Foster Nation’s continued success, especially now, as COVID-19 increases the pressures and challenges faced by foster youth.”
To donate to Foster Nation, visit www.fosternation.org/donate.
Foster Nation joins six other nonprofits that Grant Thornton previously selected as Purple Paladins: Hope in a Box, Weird Enough Productions, Invisible Hands Deliver, Pal Experiences, Sneakers for Soldiers and Coming Up Rosies.
- Hope in a Box is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides educators with literature, detailed curriculums and coaching to improve classroom environments for LGBTQ+ students. To learn more, visit: www.hopeinabox.org.
- Weird Enough Productions is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that develops free, interactive online content designed to combat media misrepresentations of minority communities. The organization is best known for its hallmark comic book series, The UnCommons. To learn more, visit: www.weirdenough.com.
- Invisible Hands Deliver is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that taps more than 12,000 volunteers to deliver groceries, prescriptions and other necessities to people vulnerable to COVID-19 — including the elderly, disabled and immunocompromised. To learn more, visit: www.invisiblehandsdeliver.org.
- Pal Experiences is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps people with non-visible disabilities — such as autism — have more inclusive experiences at museums, entertainment venues and sporting events. To learn more, visit: www.palexperiences.org.
- Sneakers for Soldiers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides properly fitted athletic shoes to deployed combat troops in all branches of the military. To learn more, visit: www.sneakersforsoldiers.org.
- Coming Up Rosies is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides “smile kits” to hospitals so children — particularly those suffering from hair loss — can engage in therapeutic art activities to create custom head scarves, neck scarves and superhero capes based on their own unique designs. To learn more, visit: www.cominguprosies.com.
Grant Thornton’s Purple Paladins program derives its name from the word paladin, a champion of a cause. Grant Thornton and its professionals have donated more than $350,000 to Purple Paladin nonprofits. And more than 300 Grant Thornton professionals have volunteered support to the firm’s Purple Paladins.
To learn more about Purple Paladins or to nominate a nonprofit for potential support, visit Grant Thornton’s website: www.grantthornton.com/PurplePaladins.
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