Foster youths receive help at Cuyahoga Community College and Cleveland State University

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Cuyahoga Community College and Cleveland State University are offering programs to help students who "aged out" of the state's foster system when they turned 18.

Tri-C has been awarded a grant to improve retention and graduation rates for former foster youths. And at Cleveland State University, 10 former foster youths are the first to enroll in a scholarship program.

National studies have estimated that fewer than half of the people who age out of foster-care systems apply to college and less than 10 percent of those graduate with a degree. 

"For too long this population has gone under the radar in post-secondary education," William Murray IV, coordinator of Ohio Reach, a nonprofit organization that supports higher education for foster youth, said in a statement.

Ohio Reach awarded a three-year, $60,000 grant to Tri-C.

Tri-C will offer a new mentoring program this fall, JaNice Marshall, associate vice president of access and community engagement, said in a statement.

Approximately 1,000 former foster youth attend Tri-C, she said. A liaison to provide help is at each campus.

"Without a family behind them, aged-out foster youth can find it pretty tough when they begin college," Marshall said. "We're trying to help them overcome any obstacles."

CSU's Sullivan-Deckard Scholars Opportunity Program, funded by a $2.3 million gift, provides scholarships for tuition and living expenses as well as on-campus employment Students will also receive academic and other support while in school.

On Thursday, more than 70 high school graduates from the foster care system will be recognized at the Centers for Families and Children in Cleveland.

There are 1,836 children in foster care in Cuyahoga County and more than 600 are available for adoption, the county said.

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