Foster Your Future was the brainchild of Ginny and Randy Paulsen, who decided to address the needs of young adults existing the foster care system in the metro Phoenix area. After successfully raising five children, they financed the organization of Foster Your Future, a 501 (c)(3) organization from proceeds of their own staffing therapy agency.
Each year, volunteer mentors in the Foster Your Future organization work with up to 30 young adults over the age of 18 who have aged out of the foster care system. The one-year, individualized programs are task driven, and include nine specific elements: Credentials, Driving, Financial Literacy, Rental Assistance (employment), Rental Assistance (Education), Essentials, Vocational/Educational Support, Life Skills, and Other. The latter allows the mentor to accompany the program participant to unfamiliar institutions, such as banks, car dealerships, or educational institutions and help them ask appropriate questions.
Program participants are referred by an agency or group home. They must be drug free, working or in school, and sign a commitment to participate in the one-year program. Once the applicant is accepted, they are assigned a mentor, who works with them to develop a customized program. Each participant receives more than $3,000/year in housing, food, and clothing support. Twenty percent of the organization’s funding still comes directly from the Paulsens.
As many as 900 individuals exist the foster care system in Arizona each year. Because they have few resources, this population experiences high rates of homelessness, incarceration, and instability. Seventy-five percent of those who enter the Foster Your Future program become contributing members of society.
“We are proud of our success rate,” Ginny said. “Those who contribute to Foster Your Future are supporting evidence-based programming.”
In 2022, the Fountain Hills Community Foundation awarded a $950 grant to Foster Your Future. The organization used those funds to provide monthly stipends to participants to help with the cost of living once they’ve shared a passing grade report from their educational institution.
“There is no overhead or salaried positions,” Ginny said, “We depend on volunteers as mentors and household donations from the community. All Administrative fees are paid by the founders. The main focus is a long term commitment from young adults that have exited from the foster system to become independent, successful, and contributing adults. ”
For more information on Foster Your Future, or to donate or volunteer, visit their website.