Peggy Eighmy, First Lady of UTSA
As a passionate advocate for children in the foster care system and young adults with a history of foster care, Peggy Eighmy has worked in child welfare and child advocacy roles in Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Texas. She believes that higher education is the best path forward towards breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and involvement with the foster care system.
Peggy conceptualized and advocated for public funding ($10.5M to date) for the Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Pilot Project , a first-of-its kind state funded comprehensive program to help students who have been in the foster care system graduate from college. Since launching the program in 2019, enrollment of UTSA students with a history of foster care has increased by 52%.
About the First Lady
Peggy is a first-generation Irish American and a first-generation college student. A native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, she is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Past professional roles include President of the University of New Hampshire Foundation, Director of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Information Service, Manager of Government Relations for Comcast in Boston, Massachusetts, and Program Director for Court Appointed Special Advocates of East Tennessee.
Peggy serves on the Executive Committee of the Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Pilot Project. She is a tri-chairperson for Senator Jose Menendez’s Blue-Ribbon Task Force on Child Abuse Prevention and the Child Welfare/Foster Care Workgroup of the South Texas Trauma-Informed Care Consortium. Peggy’s board and advisory service includes Texas CASA, the Najim Charitable Foundation, ChildSafe, the UTSA Veteran & Military Affairs Advisory Board, the UTSA Libraries Advisory Council, the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County's Ready Children Impact Council, and the NXT Level Youth Reengagement Center Advisory Council.
Peggy and her husband Dr. Taylor Eighmy have one daughter, Hannah, a pediatric nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital, and are the proudest of grandparents to Maeve Elizabeth.
About the Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Pilot Project
In 2019, Mrs. Eighmy successfully sought funding from the Texas Legislature, the first legislative body in the United States to appropriate public funding to improve educational outcomes for students with a history of foster care. Led by UTSA, The Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Pilot Project (“Pilot Project”) works to improve college enrollment, retention, and graduation rates for students with a history of foster care, and to increase the number of children in foster care who are college aware, expect to attend college, and are emotionally and academically ready to do so.
For the first time, partners across child welfare, the Children’s Court, K-12 school systems, and the two-and-four-year public higher education institutions are working together to increase the number of foster alumni who graduate college. Recognizing its success, the Pilot Project continues to receive funding from the Texas Legislature ($7M to date.)
The Pilot Project has served 730 foster youth and alumni, including 500 college students with a history of foster care who receive comprehensive services from campus-based support programs established at UTSA, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, and the Alamo College District, and 230 middle and high school students still in foster care who receive pre-college programming, wrap-around services and peer mentoring through the College Bound Docket and the CLIMB Program, a novel pre-college curriculum
"I believe public universities can be catalysts for change and have an important role to play in helping foster alumni reach their highest potential, that universities can best do so, by providing individualized, trauma-informed, and strength-based support on their campuses, and that public universities must engage and work with child welfare agencies, children’s courts, K-12 school systems and non-profits long before these young people reach our campuses. I am so proud that UTSA is doing exactly that."
- P eggy Eighmy, Texas Workforce Commission, Keynote Address, March 5, 2021
The Pilot project is conducting ground-breaking research on the pipeline of educational support for students who have experienced foster care. The scope and the scale of the research is novel and will be critical to understanding how a model of cross-system collaboration may be replicated elsewhere in Texas and across the United States.
Below Image: Peggy Eighmy with UTSA graduate and foster care alumna Caroline Nolen
The Pilot Project addresses housing for foster and homeless youth. In partnership with Child Protective Services, youth still in foster care may live in UTSA dormitories allowing them to enroll in college and develop independent living skills. UTSA is the first university in the country to receive funding ($2.5M through 2024) from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development for its “Housing First” program for young people with a history of foster care who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Housing First provides educational support, market-rate rental assistance for up to 24 months, childcare stipends, and mental health and legal services. 76 young adults and their dependent children have participated in the program, and 27 participants have received their GED or are enrolled in 2- or 4-year colleges.
Updated April 2023
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), Texas A&M-San Antonio (A&M-SA), the Alamo Colleges District (ACD), Bexar County Children's Court and Child Advocates San Antonio is a collaborative pilot program that aims to improve college graduation rates for foster care alumni.
Learn more: https://www.bcfes.org/
Peggy Eighmy speaking at Rotary San Antonio on October 4, 2023.
First Lady of UTSA
Organizational Leadership» Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Pilot Project
» Senator Jose Menendez's Blue-Ribbon Task Force on Child Abuse Prevention
» Child Welfare/Foster Care Workgroup of the South Texas Trauma-Informed Care Consortium
» Najim Charitable Foundation
» Family Tapestry
» United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County's Ready Children Impact Council
» NXT Level Youth Reengagement Center
In the News
San Antonio Woman Magazine
ImpactSA Member Profile: Peggy Eighmy