Enriching the lives of foster youth through Youth Opportunity Scholarships
Guest Blog Post by Kristine Schneller, Business Development Specialist at iFoster
Levi, a 12 year old from Grass Valley California, dreams of being a professional wrestler. To Levi, wrestling is everything. Levi is excited about wrestling because he excels in the sport, and the other kids love to watch him wrestle and are inspired since he is a little person. However, money is really tight living with his grandmother and sisters. This is why iFoster’s partnership with Philanthropic Ventures Foundation to enrich the lives of foster youth is so important. With a Youth Opportunity Scholarship from PVF, Levi was able to participate in his school team for the first time. “I have learned so many moves, and I have done so well in the tournaments I have gone to,” Levi told us, “The wrestling club is getting ready to start a new style of wrestling called Free Style. I would really like to continue on.” It has been incredibly rewarding to see Levi’s confidence sky rocket and his skills advance. Levi is one of hundreds of scholarship requests we have read from youth wanting to experience life, grow and thrive.
iFoster is a national nonprofit that works with foster youth and families to help get them the resources that they need. Foster parents receive funding from the government to cover the necessities: food, clothing, shelter, etc. However they lack the funding for what we at iFoster call “thriving resources.” So when PVF approached us in 2016 offering to fund enrichment activities for foster youth through the Youth Opportunity Scholarship (YOS) program, we jumped at the chance.
While playing a sport, participating in a science fair, or learning to play an instrument may seem like what every young person gets to do, our youth don’t get these opportunities. Now thanks to PVF, our youth can be just like their peers and live their dreams.
Cali, an 18 year old from Sacramento, CA, has dreamed of riding horses her whole life. Unfortunately, changing foster care placements and not being able to afford lessons have prevented her from having that experience. Cali has struggled with depression and stress in her life and has trouble forming trusting relationships. Working with horses has helped Cali learn to trust and build her confidence. “There’s no judgment with a horse,” Cali explained to us. She told us how she is building a strong bond with the horse she rides, and she is learning how to be aware of horse behaviors and read the response when you instruct the horse to do something. The equestrian center has also made a huge impact on Cali. The instructor is a successful entrepreneur and has proven to be a strong role model in Cali’s life. Cali has said that this experience has helped her to become a strong, responsible and independent person. Without the help of Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, none of this would be possible.
PVF has already invested thousands of dollars in our youth to explore their passions. Hundreds of our young people have participated in activities that they might not otherwise have access to, living out their dreams and thriving. We at iFoster are grateful for PVF’s investment in our most vulnerable young people.