Every child in West Virginia deserves a chance to go to college. But for children who spend the early years of their life in foster care that dream may seem impossible. State Treasurer John Perdue wanted to help these children in particular after learning the startling statistic that only three percent of children raised in foster care go on to obtain a college degree.
That’s what prompted Treasurer Perdue and his staff to partner with Mission West Virginia and its Frameworks program to create an opportunity where those college dreams may be a little more attainable.
The SMART 5.29K Run/Walk was created to raise money to establish college savings plans for kids who have been adopted from West Virginia’s foster care system.
Rachel Kinder, a Permanency Coordinator for Frameworks, stresses that a child’s past misfortune shouldn’t impact their future.
“We know there are a lot of kids who are in care that are really smart and really driven and we want to help and we want to help them achieve an education.” Kinder said.
In 2015 the SMART 5.29K Run/Walk raised enough money to award seven children with $1,200 scholarships invested in a SMART529 account.
For adoptive parents like Stephanie Adkins, this is an opportunity to show adopted children they have the same opportunities as any other child.
“To me he’s got the same potential as anyone’s birth child,” Stephanie said. “The fact that he had to be in foster care to me shouldn’t inhibit his future in any way and it’s our job as his parents to make sure that doesn’t happen, and that’s exactly what we plan to do.”
Mission West Virginia and Frameworks is now taking applications for the 2016 Smart Start Awards. If you have adopted a child from foster care in West Virginia, your child may be eligible to apply. Click here for eligibility requirements and to download an application. The deadline for applications is September 26, 2016.
While the scholarships awarded from funds raised through the SMART 5.29K Run/Walk will not come close to covering all the costs of a higher education, our hope is that it will be the start these children, and their new families, need to begin saving for that future goal.