In September 2018, NSHE launched the system-wide NSHE Foster Youth Success Initiative. Shortly thereafter, NSHE received a $200,000 grant from the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, to support the successful implementation of the initiative—including the NSHE Foster Youth Fee Waiver that was passed, by the Board of Regents, in September 2018.
The primary mission of the NSHE Foster Youth Success Initiative is to more effectively recruit, support, and retain students who have been dependents of the child welfare system; and, the fee waiver is one key component in achieving that objective. However, we know that providing funding for foster youth is just one crucial step in ensuring their success in college.
As a result, NSHE hired a Foster Youth Ambassador—Laura Obrist—who is dedicated to achieving the initiative’s mission. Laura is assisting all of the colleges, statewide, with implementing processes and designing/coordinating campus-based support services that will aid foster youth in enrolling and succeeding in college. She serves as the primary point of contact for—and liaison between—all of the NSHE institutions and community partners, working in collaboration with foster youth leaders, child welfare agencies, school district officials, legal services providers, and other community providers/stakeholders who are well-versed in the unique challenges and needs of this underserved student population. Laura is working to create a statewide learning community and to build a comprehensive postsecondary support system for foster youth, leading the development of effective postsecondary transition strategies that will expand foster youth-serving systems’ capacity to support college-planning activities and build stronger career pathways for foster youth. Laura is also working to increase utilization of the new NSHE Foster Youth Fee Waiver, for students who were dependents of the Nevada child welfare system, as well as to facilitate expansion of access to/utilization of other forms of financial aid for all students who have been in foster care—including state and federal grants.