Making a difference and educating our youth.
As a teacher in the San Diego County Juvenile Court and Community School system, Katie O. Whalen-Elsbree noticed that some of her students, who were in the foster care system, would suddenly stop attending the classes in which they were enrolled.
Having raised foster youth, she was aware that when a foster youth reached the age of 18, they no longer received some of the benefits of the county foster care program.
Funding for housing, food and post secondary education was reduced. It seemed as if these young, now adult, students no longer had an adequate financial or community support system.
Katie was determined to do something that would offer these students the needed support to attain a secondary education. Since 1986, Katie had worked with Scholarship America, a national organization which mobilizes support for students getting into and graduation from college.
It helps local community groups organize and create non-profit foundations to fund post-secondary education for students. Katie thought this would be a wonderful an opportunity to set up a foundation just for former foster youth in San Diego County.
In 2002, Katie rallied the support of friends, Bonnie Feinman, Jackie Anderson, Mary Jo Macomber, Geri Shea, and Bertie Berger Darr and formed a foundation, Fostering Opportunities Dollars for Scholars (FODFS), which would raise money to help send former foster youth to college.
FODFS, a 501(c)(3) non-profit tax-exempt scholarship foundation, is an all volunteer organization managed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors. Its purpose is to expand post secondary educational opportunities for former foster youth in San Diego County.
Through FODFS, students are paired with mentors and offered financial support. Students are required to maintain a specific grade point average to continue to qualify for scholarships.
The Thursday Club in Point Loma provided the first grant to FODFS, and they’ve been going strong ever since. San Diego Las Hermanas, the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund, the Tierrasanta Junior Women’s Club, and many private donors have also offered grants, donations, and financial support.
Since 2002, with overwhelming support from the San Diego community over $330,000 has been raised and awarded in 305 scholarships to 211 students.