Isaiah's Story

Discovering a Passion for Education

Isaiah and his siblings spent a good portion of their youth in foster care. Because of the instability, he struggled in school and had a hard time feeling comfortable and making close friends.

“Every time that I would settle into a foster home, it would be time to go to another one, so I didn’t like my elementary years,” Isaiah explains. “I also struggled with my mental illness and bullies.”

In 2012, Isaiah and his siblings were adopted, and he moved to a new school district for the start of middle school. With a newfound sense of support and stability, he began to enjoy his education and became involved in extracurricular clubs and organizations. As he moved into high school, Isaiah and his older brother joined our Youth Educational Success (YES) program.

Only 3% of youth who age out of foster care attend college. Only 10% of those students graduate.

The YES program provides support to young adults pursuing education beyond high school who are aging out of foster care,” YES Manager Abby Kay says. “These hopeful students often have limited social and financial resources which can make navigating college difficult.”

Though Isaiah and his brother are no longer in foster care, they have both benefitted from the program’s extra level of community and resources, along with the support they get from their family.

The YES program operates out of Homeroom Health, located in Kansas City, Mo. In partnership with KC Care Health Center, Homeroom Health provides affordable primary, dental and mental healthcare to children and young adults, regardless of their insurance or Medicaid status. Abby Kay oversees The Hangout, a safe drop-in space for teens and young adults to work on homework, get help with job applications or receive assistance with other life or health needs. It’s also where the YES program has its meetings.

“Since I joined the program, I have learned that I am not alone, and that if I am having a problem, I have another person that I can call to seek guidance and support,” Isaiah shares. “With my passion to further my education, there have been times that I’ve stressed myself out worrying about finances, and other things. I was able to speak to Mrs. Abby Kay, and she was able to give me that support.”

“Working with Isaiah has been a great experience,” Abby says. “He knows what to do and simply needs a person to come alongside him and hold him accountable. It has been fun to problem-solve the challenges that come along with first semester and to celebrate his successes.”

Isaiah is now a freshman in college where he is pursuing a degree in education. He received all As and Bs his first semester, and has found a group of new friends that are pursuing similar dreams. Still, he says, he knows he can lean on the friendships and supports he found in the YES program.

“Waking up every day knowing that I have a chance to go to college excites me,” he says. “I have people by my side to help me through both the good and bad days."

Learn more about our YES program or becoming a mentor to youth in the program.