Less than 1 percent of Michigan foster youth who go on to college will graduate.

In spite of these bleak odds, the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund is working to improve these statistics, such as with scholarship recipient Ashley Smith.

“Park West Foundation connected me with Wayne County Community College and from there I got connected…to the scholarship,”Smith said.

Park West Foundation Fostering Futures

WXYZ News Anchor and Fostering Futures Emcee Carolyn Clifford with Ashley Smith, a Fostering Futures scholarship recipient.

Smith, a foster youth assisted by the Park West Foundation, exemplified the importance of supporting foster care youth on display during the 2017 Fostering Futures Scholarship dinner, held on September 28 at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

The Park West Foundation sponsored the Fostering Futures Scholarship dinner, ensuring that all proceeds from the dinner benefit the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund.

Unfortunately, when foster care children age out of the system, most of them lack the resources needed to attend college. The scholarship fills this need by providing funds for tuition, fees, room and board, books, and supplies to foster care youth.

Fostering Futures Park West

Foster youth with philanthropists Charles and Esther Mully (seated on left) at the 2017 Fostering Futures benefit dinner.

Guests at the dinner were encouraged to give generously through participating in silent auctions, raffles, and a “Raise Your Paddle” event where guests donated specific amounts of money to cover everything from school supplies and parking passes to computers.

Gail Perry-Mason, the keynote speaker and former foster youth, succinctly summed up the need to give succinctly by drawing upon her financial industry knowledge.

“The best investment we can ever make is our youth,” Perry-Mason said. “The dividends live on forever.”

From left: Paul Blavin, Maura Carrigan, Charles and Esther Mully, Saba Gebrai

Smith, who earned an associate’s degree from Wayne County Community College and is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Communications, is living proof of returned investments. Smith, like other foster care youth, hopes to one day provide assistance to other foster youth similar to what she received from the Park West Foundation.

“I’m looking to see where communications leads me, but I want to focus on helping youth,” Smith said.

Those interested in supporting the scholarship can still contribute to the scholarship by visiting the Fostering Futures website. Students may apply for the 2018 year from March 15, 2018 to June 30.

Mully

Famed philanthropist Charles Mully attended the event, presenting the trailer for his biographical movie. Abandoned at age 6, Mully had to fend for himself, and through hard work became a millionaire. However, he gave it all up to establish Mully Children’s Family, a Christian organization that works with disadvantaged youth in Kenya.

A movie based on his life and career, titled “Mully,” will premier October 3–5 in 800 select theaters. The Park West Foundation received its own special viewing on October 3 at the AMC Classic Fairlane Theater in Dearborn.