Project Fairness selected its fourth class of Project Fairness scholars in August 2021.
The scholarships are awarded annually to current and former foster youth who are pursuing higher education. Project Fairness provides winners with up to $5,000 to support their participation in an educational program, and mentoring to help them achieve their academic and professional goals.
To meet the 2021 Project Fairness scholars, and learn about our scholarship program, read more on our Scholarships page.
The 2021 Project Fairness scholars (left to right): Mansoora Ameri, Travis Godwin, Elina Morrison, Djulia Sekariyongo Koita and Tianna Wolin.
What Is Project Fairness?
Project Fairness, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, volunteer organization, established in April 2016, to improve the lives of current and former foster care youth in the United States. Our mission is to help current and former foster youth achieve safety, permanence, and well-being, with a particular focus on helping these individuals become better educated.
The Problem We Hope To Solve
Each year, over 22,000 youth emancipate from foster care and are on their own. Without the support of a traditional family, many current and former foster youth struggle through life, often facing poverty, homelessness, early pregnancy, high rates of dropping out of school, chronic medical problems and issues like post-traumatic stress disorder from physical, emotional, sexual or psychological abuse. Studies show that less than one in ten of those who have been through the foster care system become college educated. We believe that becoming better educated would naturally combat these problems, which is why we focus on providing scholarship and mentorship support to these individuals, and the reason why we support tuition waivers and education support services for current and former foster youth (see “Some Specific Issues We Care About” below).
Some Specific Issues We Care About
Foster youth want to go to college, but do not have the resources.
84 percent of seventeen and eighteen-year-olds in care said they wanted to get a college education, one study found. But coming from the system, these young people face serious challenges that most college students don’t have to deal with. These go from paying the costs of an education without the support of parents to staying focused on school while struggling with traumatic events in their families. As a result, only a small percentage of foster youth go on to achieve this goal – less than one in ten ends up graduating with a college degree.
Project Fairness advocates for better policies at the local, state and federal level to help level the playing field for current and former foster youth. We know that these young people have the drive and the skills to succeed if they are given the same opportunities as their peers. Project Fairness’s advocacy focuses on two issues:
Currently, 22 states in the country waive tuition fees at state universities for young people coming from foster care. Research has shown that the costs of an education are a critical barrier to foster youth going to college. Waiving tuition fees recognizes a basic reality: that youth coming from the system usually don’t have parents or other family members who can help them pay for school. Project Fairness is advocating for every state across the country to adopt this common-sense policy to give foster youth the same chances as their peers.
Cost is a big obstacle to foster youth going to college, but there is an even bigger obstacle they face once they get there: a lack of academic, organizational and emotional support that most young people get from their families. Current and former foster youth who enroll in college are about twice as likely to drop out as their peers, several studies have shown.
However, additional support services for foster youth in college make a major difference in their success and their graduation rates. These services include tutoring, academic and therapeutic counseling, grants and on-campus jobs to cover the costs of living and provide spending money, and year-round housing for those who have no other place to live. Only a small number of states – such as Michigan, Washington, and California – have robust support services in place for foster youth at college. Project Fairness is advocating for states across the country to provide the educational support services necessary to place foster youth on equal footing for success with their classmates.