NYFC held its fourth annual Educational Conference sponsored by the Neuberger Berman Foundation on April 12, 2012 at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to help high school students in foster care plan for post-secondary education. The conference was a joint effort between NYFC, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), foster care agencies, and educational organizations throughout New York City. This year, Planning Committee members Harry Berberian of Graham Windham, and Cassie Magesis of the Goddard Riverside Community OPTIONS Center, worked with Kathleen Hoskins of ACS, to create workshops specifically tailored to foster care agency workers. Agency workers were able to discuss educational planning and assessment, gain valuable resources, and network with their colleagues at other agencies.
The conference opened with a panel of youth currently or formerly in foster care discussing their educational experiences at city, private, and state schools. Joining the panel was Moderator Antwuan Walker, an alumnus of the foster care system, who spent eight years working as an Educational Coordinator for the Administration for Children’s Services before becoming a math teacher for the New York City Department of Education. After panelists offered advice to their peers, youth attending the event were able to ask questions and get answers about what steps they should take to start the application process. Following a lunch catered by the Next Generation Center, the students attended workshops led by The OPTIONS Center, HESC, and Foster Care to Success on topics such as financial aid, the application process, selecting a college, and college life. Many students also took advantage of the Resource Fair where they learned about special opportunity programs, college access organizations, and scholarship opportunities. One lucky student walked away with a laptop computer raffled at the end of the day, and other students won gift cards or Kindles, and everyone left with a gift bag including a resource pack filled resources to help them begin their journey to college.