UTSA's CAPRI receives $600K HUD grant to help youths in college planning

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(Oct. 8, 2010)--Research shows that only 2 percent of former foster-care youths in Texas earn a college degree. That is a number UTSA Professor Harriett Romo wants to improve.

Romo, a UTSA professor of sociology and director of the Bank of America Child and Adolescent Policy Research Center (CAPRI), recently received a three-year, $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to take on this challenge.

The funding will be used to create programs for foster-care youths that will encourage and assist them in planning for college. Funding also will be used to provide job-training programs for students who decide that college is not the route they would like to take.

"In a previous HUD grant that we received, we conducted research to understand the problems faced by youths in the foster-care system," said Romo. "A big problem was that many wanted to go to college, but when they leave the state system at age 18, they often flounder because they have not had stability in their lives. Often, they live from one friend's apartment to the next. They don't have the stability to allow them to be successful in college."

Funding from the new grant will help to change that by creating programs to offer encouragement, crisis management, college preparation, housing and information about financial resources and job training while students are still in high school. Anne Williamson, UTSA director of the Texas Center for Housing Policy, will work with UTSA students to compile a housing database.

The grant will combine the efforts of CAPRI, UTSA's sociology and social work departments, UTSA's financial aid and housing offices, and five community organizations -- Project Quest San Antonio, Child Advocates San Antonio, Casey Family Programs, Angels' Crossing and Baptist Child Family Services.

"Eventually, we would like to expand the program to include agencies that work with younger students," Romo added.

Romo said the collaboration is an exciting one and will provide foster care youths with a wealth of information intended to help them further their education and prepare for future success.

"Often agencies are so busy counseling these young people on personal, family or health problems that they do not get around to college planning," Romo said. "So, that will be our focus and our direct link with the partner agencies."

For more information about the program or how to help, contact CAPRI at 210-458-2849.