Angelo State University’s Fostering Ram Success program garnered over $20,000 through its 2021 Grand Slam fundraising event to fund scholarships for ASU students who are former foster care youths.
The Fostering Ram Success program partnered with the ASU Office of Development and Henry “Hank” Whitman, former commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, to conduct the fundraiser, which mainly featured the online sale of brisket plates. HEB donated the briskets, and Whitman handled all the cooking duties.
Volunteer groups made up of ASU faculty and students handled the sale and distribution of the brisket plates prior to the Rams baseball game on April 16. Whitman then threw out the first pitch and participated in a check presentation ceremony with ASU President Ronnie Hawkins Jr. between innings.
Volunteers included Dr. Javier Flores, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, who heads the Fostering Ram Success program, Kim Adams, director of development and alumni services, and Dr. Crystal Kreitler, chair of ASU’s Former Foster Care Steering Committee. Other committee members who volunteered included Dr. Paige Trubenstein, Dr. Stephen Lippi, Dr. Kyle van Ittersum and Dr. Twyla Tasker.
Several graduate students in the experimental psychology program also volunteered, including Mya Rodriquez, Amy Howard, Garett Parrish and Kateri Oakley.
The brisket plate sales and additional donations raised a grand total of $20,012. With the addition of those funds, ASU has currently raised $180,397 for the Fostering Ram Success program to provide scholarships for former foster care students.
“Angelo State has an incredibly diverse student body, including a large percentage of first-generation and minority students,” said ASU President Ronnie Hawkins Jr. “Former foster care youths are another important part of the ASU Ram Family, and we are committed to making sure they get the quality education and complete college experience they deserve, but that has often been just out of their reach.”
A large part of ASU’s funding came as a $150,000 gift from the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Charitable Foundation in Midland to establish a scholarship endowment for former foster care students attending ASU.
Referred to as foster care alumni, students who age out of the foster care system after turning 18 are eligible for the State College Tuition Waiver. ASU currently has 71 foster care alumni enrolled in classes. However, the waiver only covers tuition, and those students receiving the waiver still often struggle with the additional costs of housing, meals, transportation, books and other class materials.
“Many students who are foster care alumni have little to no family to fall back on,” said Jamie Akin, ASU vice president for external affairs. “This incredibly generous gift from the James A. ‘Buddy’ Davidson Foundation has given Angelo State the opportunity to uplift their spirits, break cycles and encourage foster care alumni to obtain their college degree.”
In addition to providing scholarships, the mission of ASU’s Fostering Ram Success program is to provide quality education and support opportunities to youth previously placed in foster care and/or who are unaccompanied/homeless. Its primary goals are to improve:
- Access to student services and resources
- Access to academic support
- Academic performance
- Completion of courses, programs and degree requirements
To be eligible for Fostering Ram Success, students must meet one of the following requirements:
- Former foster youth
- Current foster youth
- Kinship/guardianship placement
- Adopted from foster care
- Unaccompanied (homeless)
ASU is also currently working with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services on a new agreement that will increase the enrollment among students that experienced foster care.
Fostering Ram Success director, Dr. Javier Flores, also serves on the Board of Directors and is the immediate past president of Education Reach for Texans, an organization that supports former foster care youths in their pursuit of higher education. In that capacity, he helps facilitate the sharing of ideas between higher education and child welfare officials geared toward the implementation of campus-based support programs for students who are alumni of foster care.