Our Program

Our Program

Young people should be able to have fun, be well protected, and be given proper guidance. This does not always happen naturally when their parents are not around, and it is difficult to achieve when a youth is placed in foster care.

Only 50% of foster youth complete high school by the age of 18, compared with 70% of their non-foster peers. Only 20% of those who graduate from high school attend college compared with 60% of high school graduates in the general population. As a result, a high percentage of emancipated foster youth end up on the streets when the foster care system no longer supports them. The problem is not that foster youth have less desire to pursue a college education. Many foster youth do not receive encouragement to study hard in school, are not provided with information about applying to college, or are not given the opportunities to explore their options.

We believe that foster youth should receive high quality support, opportunities, and rapport as soon as they reach middle school age (grades 6-8). To accomplish this goal, SOAR hosts residential summer academies for foster youth on the UC Berkeley campus and continues to add new resources for academic support until our young people graduate from high school.

It is a three-year program, with additional years of academic support until each youth graduates from high school.

Once selected, each youth is invited to attend three summer pre-collegiate academies (“Prepare To SOAR”, “Learn To SOAR”, and “Time To SOAR”). The summer program curriculum includes:

In addition to the summer academies, we host SOAR events to help our young people stay connected throughout the following academic year. In doing so, we create a home base they can look forward to returning to, provide a peer group they feel secure in connecting with, and create a program that reminds them of those who care.

Beginning in 2012, SOAR provides new resources and support to help ensure that our participants are on track to be eligible for college admission. This includes recruiting and training of academic advocates (both voluntary and paid), making these advocates available to work with SOAR youths (weekly, monthly, and annually), and providing college preparation workshops, as well as interaction with school counselors, on a case-by-case basis, to help ensure that students’ grade-point averages consistently increase and that our young people pursue an educational course leading to the fulfillment of their life goals and a bright future. This academic support is provided until the SOAR youth graduates from high school.

With sustained attention and support from SOAR over a four-to-seven-year period, with real follow-through to encourage their progress, we expect that unlike their foster peers, 80% of SOAR youth will graduate from high school, and more than 50% of them will attend college. We expect every SOAR youth will become a contributing member of society.