Remember how tough it was to find your first job, or to apply for college? Now imagine having to do that without the help or support of your family.

This is the reality of hundreds of foster care youth in Michigan, which is why the Park West Foundation is proud to once again support the annual Jump Shot Your Future college and resource fair.

The fair will be held on Sunday, January 28, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History in Detroit. The event is open to current and former foster care students ages 14 to 25.

Park West Foundation Program Director Saba Gebrai spoke about the annual event on the January 4 episode of the Mitch Albom Show. Listen to the interview here.

Gebrai said there are more than 13,000 youth in Michigan’s foster care system, 300 of whom are ready to be adopted. Many of them may never be adopted and are forced to live on their own once they “age out” of foster care.

Jump Shot Your Future

Foster care youth at a previous Jump Shot Your Future event

Gebrai says with Jump Shot Your Future, these foster care youth are connected to the resources they need to support themselves once they leave the foster care system.

“It’s beyond jobs, it’s also life skills and college, and scholarship opportunities,” Gebrai says. “We have to be able to provide them, as a community, how to receive these resources, how to access them, how to connect to different scholarship and college opportunities.”

Gebrai says many institutions, including University of Michigan, Grand Valley State University, and Western Michigan, will have representatives at the event. Youth who attend can learn about programs such as year-round housing that allows them to remain on campus, even during the holidays or the summer.

Park West Class of 2016 Graduation Ceremony

The Park West Foundation holds an annual ceremony to celebrate foster care students who have graduated.

Attendees can also speak with representatives regarding unemployment, apprenticeship, and military opportunities.

Eligible youth interested in attending should RSVP by emailing their name and birthday to pwfbluebabies@yahoo.com. The RSVP should also specify if transportation assistance is required.

Established in 2006, the Park West Foundation supports youth aging out of foster care in Southeastern Michigan as well as initiatives promoting art education and environmental conservation.