May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust


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Foster Youth

The Trust envisions a society where foster youth have the personal support, resources, skills, and knowledge they need to become healthy, self-sufficient, resilient, and successful adults.

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Overview

The Trust aims to provide children and youth who have experienced disruption or instability in their homes with the support, resources, skills, and knowledge they need to become healthy, self-sufficient, resilient, and successful adults.

The Trust’s Foster Youth grantmaking addresses four strategies – stable homes, physical and mental health, education, and preparation for independence – which collectively support the healthy development and success of children and youth who are currently or formerly in foster care or whose parents can no longer care for them.

Families and communities are included in the Trust’s grantmaking to support foster youth, as part of a holistic approach to enrich the quality of life, promote self-sufficiency, and assist individuals in achieving their highest potential.

Much of the Trust’s Foster Youth grantmaking will be devoted to direct services for individuals, families, and communities, but the Trust’s grantmaking will also advance the work of organizations engaged in research and communication initiatives that raise awareness about the issues facing foster youth, and organizations that develop and advocate for policies and practices that effectively address these issues.

Focus Population

The focus population for this program area includes children and youth who are currently, or have been, in the foster care system; children and youth who may not have entered the formal foster care system, but who live with relatives or other caregivers because their parents are either absent or unable to care for them; homeless youth; and unaccompanied immigrant youth.

Adults who care for or work with youth who experience disruption or instability in their homes (e.g., caregivers, caseworkers, advocates, etc.) are also a key population to be supported through the Foster Youth program area.

Young woman of color speaking at a public forum Credit: California Youth Connection

Acknowledging that there are particularly vulnerable subpopulations of foster youth/homeless youth (e.g., LGBTQ youth, youth of color, pregnant and parenting youth, victims of sex trafficking) and that some of these subpopulations are overrepresented in the child welfare system (e.g., LGBTQ youth, Native youth, African-American youth), the Trust’s grantmaking may include organizations that provide tailored support to these subpopulations, or that are working to address these disproportionalities.

Strategies

The Trust’s grantmaking in the Foster Youth Program Area addresses four broad goals, which collectively support the healthy development and success of children and youth who are currently or formerly in foster care or whose parents can no longer care for them:

  • Stable Homes

    Children and youth have access to safe and stable homes where they can develop and thrive.

    Strategies include:

    • Increase the number of foster families and improve the support they receive
    • Facilitate the adoption and/or legal guardianship of foster youth
    • Strengthen the skills of birth parents so that they are able to provide a healthy, supportive home environment and are well-positioned to be reunified with their children
    • Increase permanent housing for former foster youth, as well as transitional supportive housing leading to permanent housing

  • Physical & Mental Health

    The physical and mental health needs of children and youth are met.

    Strategies include:

    • Ensure continuous access to health care
    • Provide access to individualized mental health care services
    • Support adults to recognize symptoms of trauma, grief, and loss, and educating them about how to create a safe, nurturing environment

  • Education

    Children and youth receive the support they need to succeed academically.

    Strategies include:

    • Reduce the number of school transfers for foster youth
    • Ensure schools and districts share data and information so that when school transfers are necessary, transitions can be as seamless as possible
    • Train educators to identify and mitigate the effects of trauma, and support resiliency in their classrooms
    • Provide foster youth with the academic support and enrichment they need to graduate high school, and facilitate their enrollment in post-secondary education and achievement of post-secondary degrees

  • Independence & Self-Sufficiency

    Children and youth are prepared to be successful in work and life.

    Strategies include:

    • Support foster youth in transitioning from high school or college to employment
    • Support foster youth to gain financial management and independent living skills

Stable Homes

Children and youth have access to safe and stable homes where they can develop and thrive.

Strategies include:

  • Increase the number of foster families and improve the support they receive
  • Facilitate the adoption and/or legal guardianship of foster youth
  • Strengthen the skills of birth parents so that they are able to provide a healthy, supportive home environment and are well-positioned to be reunified with their children
  • Increase permanent housing for former foster youth, as well as transitional supportive housing leading to permanent housing

Physical & Mental Health

The physical and mental health needs of children and youth are met.

Strategies include:

  • Ensure continuous access to health care
  • Provide access to individualized mental health care services
  • Support adults to recognize symptoms of trauma, grief, and loss, and educating them about how to create a safe, nurturing environment

Education

Children and youth receive the support they need to succeed academically.

Strategies include:

  • Reduce the number of school transfers for foster youth
  • Ensure schools and districts share data and information so that when school transfers are necessary, transitions can be as seamless as possible
  • Train educators to identify and mitigate the effects of trauma, and support resiliency in their classrooms
  • Provide foster youth with the academic support and enrichment they need to graduate high school, and facilitate their enrollment in post-secondary education and achievement of post-secondary degrees

Independence & Self-Sufficiency

Children and youth are prepared to be successful in work and life.

Strategies include:

  • Support foster youth in transitioning from high school or college to employment
  • Support foster youth to gain financial management and independent living skills

The Trust does not fund

  • Nonprofit social service providers whose work with adults may result in the prevention of children being placed in foster care, but whose work is not explicitly focused on preventing such placements. For example, an organization that helps adults with substance abuse issues, but not for the explicit purpose of preventing the placement of children in foster care, would not be eligible for funding, but an organization that provides comprehensive services to families, including treatment for substance abuse, with an explicit goal of creating healthy families and parents that have the skills and capacity to care for their children would be eligible
  • Organizations primarily providing emergency material relief, such as food, clothing, or overnight shelter
  • Organizations lacking a track record of achieving results toward at least one of the four strategies outlined above

Successful Applicant Organizations

  • Specifically address one or more of Trust's Foster Youth strategies described above
  • Incorporate recognized youth development principles and best practices
  • Empower youth and develop youths’ capacity for leadership and self-advocacy (e.g., organizations involve youth in decision-making and program planning)
  • Support the development of long-term relationships between youth and adults and among youth peer groups
  • Emphasize youths’ strengths and assets
  • Understand and honor the principles of trauma-informed care

Grantseekers Start Here

Competitive applicants must also meet the eligibility and alignment criteria described in the grantseekers section.