CSU Creates Center to Support Students Formerly In Foster Care

CSU Sophomore MaryAnne Dowdell
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Next fall, Cleveland State University will open a new center devoted to supporting students who were once in the foster care system.  The new Pratt Center will be funded by a recently-announced $1 million gift. 

Last year, CSU launched a scholarship program to provide tuition, plus year-round housing to ten former foster care youths.  Sophomore MaryAnn Dowdell is one of those recipients.  She spoke on 90.3’s The Sound of Ideas about the difficulty for these young people to transition from foster care to college.

“I always hear about how we’re rowdy or we’re not really going to amount to anything.  It’s just very subtle and that’s hard on the mentality,” says Dowdell.  “So once you put them in a place where they can kind of strip that away like even the foster care label away and just say, 'you are your own person, you are independent, you can do this,' I think that’s a key part in transitioning to college because you have to get away from the constant stereotypes of being inadequate.” 

CSU currently has more than 70 former foster care students.  According to Ohio Reach – an organization that helps emancipated young people in higher education – one in five foster youth enroll in college but 67% of them don’t complete their degree.

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