In 2012, through generous support from The Kresge Foundation, Western Michigan University, the Havirmill Foundation, and others, the Fostering Success Michigan statewide initiative was established to help increase college-going rates and successful career transitions among Michigan’s students from foster care by building a network of support on college campuses and within local communities. An initiative of Western Michigan University’s Center for Fostering Success, Fostering Success Michigan is leading Michigan’s collective-impact effort to increase access and success in higher education and post-college careers for Michigan’s students with experience in foster care ages 12 to 25. Fostering Success Michigan has become a state and national hub of resources and information for those who work with students from foster care ages 12 to 25 years old, resulting in a significant increase of knowledge, skill and social capacity of network participants.
Fostering Success Michigan will increase access and success in postsecondary education and post-college careers among Michigan's students with experience in foster care through the building of a holistic network that insulates (i.e., strengthens protective factors and reduces risks) the education to career “pipeline” for students from foster care. The Fostering Success Michigan Network participants include: students with experience in foster care, higher education professionals, child welfare professionals, community organizations, supportive adults, philanthropic support, and the business community.
Collective Impact Framework
Fostering Success Michigan is utilizing a Collective Impact Framework to address Michigan's need for large-scale social change in the area of students with experience in foster care and their access and success in higher education and post-college careers. The Collective Impact Framework employs five distinct conditions for social change: Backbone Organization, Common Agenda, Mutually Reinforcing Activities, Shared Measurement, and Continuous Communication.
As a collective impact backbone organization, Fostering Success Michigan employs three strategies: Resourcing, Supporting, and Networking. These strategies address the knowledge, skill and social capacity gaps that must be filled to create a sustainable education to career pipeline for students with experience in foster care. Fostering Success Michigan is a hub, supporting Michigan’s network of experts versus being an “expert organization”. Bringing together the combined energy and efforts from partners across the State of Michigan allows Fostering Success Michigan to identify areas where resources are lacking and collaborate with partners to fill these gaps.
Fostering Success Michigan has adopted theLumina Big Goal of increasing the number of students from foster care who obtain high-quality degrees and credentials to 60% by the year 2025. By aligning ourselves with the Lumina Big Goal, Fostering Success Michigan is joining the Michigan College Access Network, and other stakeholders in the education arena, toward their efforts to achieve this goal.
Mutually Reinforcing Activities
Each partner in the Fostering Success Michigan Network plays a vital role in the education to career pipeline for youth and alumni of foster care. As a partner in the Fostering Success Michigan Collective Impact strategy, partners agree to work collaboratively and share best practices, knowing that the best solution in one community may need adaptation for success in another community, or may not fit at all.
A shared measurement strategy is being established through the collaborative efforts of the Fostering Success Michigan Higher Education Consortium (FSM HEC). FSM HEC participants utilize the 7 Life Domains model, adapted from Casey Family Programs “It’s My Life framework”, to monitor progress of success and provide a realistic understanding of how Michigan’s students with experience in foster care move to and through postsecondary education and into professional careers.
To ensure that our diverse group of partners maintains an awareness of successes, challenges, priority issues and shared solutions, FSM supports continuous communication through a variety of networking activities. These include the FSM Google Group listserv, FSM Monthly Newsletters, FSM Student Spotlights, and in-person networking opportunities. “Like” FSM on Facebook and “Follow” @FSMichigan on Twitter for up the minute info about child welfare and higher education.
Connect with Fostering Success Michigan
Check out the Fostering Success Michigan website for more information on the initiative, find resources to support student success and become a Fostering Success Michigan Network Partner.
Are you interested in receiving regular updates about new resources and opportunities for networking? Join the Fostering Success Michigan Google Group today.