We bring ideas to life that restore hope to children in foster care.
We are advocates for children and teens struggling in the foster care system throughout the nation.
We restore hope to children in foster care through innovative ideas built on meaningful relationships.
Restore hope to every child struggling in foster care.
OUR CORE VALUES
2010We began by asking 50 community members two questions.
Can our communities do more for children in foster care?
Would our collective action improve their outcomes?
2011We incorporated as a non-profit and launched our first two ideas, using the power of volunteers to make a real difference in the lives of families.
Family visits can feel sterile. Making crafts together promotes positive interaction. We began by asking 15 volunteers to sit with families during these critical visits and guide them in craft making. Why is this support important? The families have experienced trauma together, all eyes are on them, and they need to know healthy memories can be formed now, through fun, positive interaction.
Holidays apart are painful. Sharing time together restores the bond for better days ahead. We asked two churches to host a thanksgiving feast the Saturday before Thanksgiving for 10 families torn apart through foster care. The church volunteers brought all the turkey and dressings, laid out linens and nice cutlery, and hosted a memorable event during the family holiday season. This program continues and is what many look forward to each year.
2012We launched our first Great Idea.
Many youth in foster care lack consistent relationships, much less any kind of mentor who can provide long-term guidance. The statistics are sobering. 18-year-olds age out and are largely on their own. We knew that if we could find volunteers to stand by these youth through their ups and downs, those volunteers would become critical advocates and build long-term relationships. 20 youth enrolled in Life Support® and were matched with trained mentors.
2013We launched three more ideas focused on loss and trauma.
Operation Bear Hug®
Children feel scared entering foster care. Teddy bears bring comfort as the journey begins. It’s a simple concept, but effective. Children are traumatized when removed from their homes, and this trauma continues into their first several family visits. Often, they wonder why they can’t go back to mom or dad. Within this first year of launching this idea, 200 teddy bears were distributed, often by the case workers wanting to help lower the stress of trauma for the children. In one county, the case workers have a "teddy bear closet." If a family visit ends with significant stress, the case worker leads the child to the closet, filled with hundreds of bears and tells them, "You choose!" The children’s eyes beam as they are comforted by this simple gesture at such a critical moment.
Our Common Loss®
Foster families grieve the loss of children. Sharing some of the grief together helps to heal the pain. As we began to focus on the emotional needs of fostering families as well as the children they serve, we realized that their biggest struggle was the constant loss as children move. In our first year, 100 foster parents received this training and expressed a high level of gratitude. We knew were on to something.
Life in Limbo®
What is it like to be in foster care? We developed an interactive workshop designed to answer that question. The first workshop gave 12 people the opportunity to role play foster care, and 2 of them became foster parents within a year. We learned quickly that the experience helped participants see foster care with fresh eyes. Soon, Limbo was asked for across the country. It is now our largest program!
2014Our Founder went fulltime as our first CEO, and a group of 27 donors invest toward a full year of growth. Another idea is launched in 2014 and more ideas that improve children’s lives in long-term, meaningful ways are developed, for launch in 2015.
Children often enter foster care with a couple of items thrown in a trash bag. This pattern sometimes continues when children move between placements. Luggage says, “You matter. You are valuable. You have worth.” Can’t we do better than this? We found out that with the community’s support, we can.
2015We launched two more Great Ideas and held our first benefit event.
There aren’t enough foster parents, which means siblings are separated, children move more, and children are placed further away from their community and family.
We learned that over half of children will go back to their primary parent, often their mom. Could we support the moms during their treatment plans so that each child could come home to a healthier parent? Weekly peer support for moms encourages them to stay on track and heal from their own trauma. We served 18 moms served in the first year, and our second and third employees were hired to work on implementing these ideas.
2017This was an expansion year. A national child welfare hero in Colorado asked for all of our ideas—especially SibLink®—to be implemented there. We grew 38% and also developed two new Great Ideas.
There aren’t enough foster parents. Sharing stories and offering support helps fill the gap. 33 new foster families were recruited, and an online supportive community launched with 100 foster parents.
Fewer than 10% of youth aging out of foster care obtain a college degree. Academic and emotional support help youth to attend college. 15 students were served in the first year.
2018A year to breathe (a little.) The focus for 2018 became quality of service. Ironically, we still grew 19%, serving 230 children with relationships that matter. Still, there was a core academic statistic we wanted to fix.
We knew children in foster care had the lowest standardized test scores of any group. It’s not a surprising stat, given the level of loss, shame and trauma heaped upon them. To help, we developed a tutor program for any child or youth in foster care. At first, this program didn’t take off like we expected. Over the next year, though, more and more people began to realize these children’s untapped academic abilities, and the program steadily gained traction.
2019The organization hires its first COO.
2019 growth was 32% from the prior year, amounting to meaningful relationships developed for 304 children across two states, South Carolina and Colorado!
2020Piloted another Great Idea for relatives and kin of children in foster care: It's All Relative®
Company pivoted to national platforms with virtual offerings. 150 volunteers, 250 donors, and 24 corporate sponsors all focused on one mission.
Foster parent communities grew to over 1,200 members. Client communities became a new concept that informs all of our work, and we launched our first for moms and youth in South Carolina.
David holds an MBA in Corporate Finance and an MSW in Child Welfare. His corporate work was 6 years in commercial real estate investment, analyzing asset value, and 6 years in telecom, negotiating contracts. At 34, he decided to pivot his career into serving those who are severely marginalized and improving the systems they rely upon. He has worked in three non-profit organizations, the most recent being the one he founded, Fostering Great Ideas, in 2011.
David is an Adjunct Professor with Clemson University’s MBA in Entrepreneurship program. He teaches a class called Social (impact) Entrepreneurship: Changing the World as an Entrepreneur. David enjoys time with his family, gardening, and cycling.
Formerly an educator, CerVon worked with many ages and learning levels before starting his own business as a caregiver. His experience as leader of the Golden View Baptist Church youth & young adults ministry further shaped his desire to work with young people. Through CerVon's grounded and understanding manner, he gives each Sib-Link visit his best, and tries to make each visit better than the last!
To CerVon, this position gives an "eye opening" view of the nuances we take for granted, which many children in foster care don't get to experience.
Hope holds a BA in Social Work. She began working in child welfare through volunteer work in college, but her initial exposure began as a child growing up in foster care. Hope is deeply motivated by helping children and youth in foster care to not feel alone and unwanted by the situation they are in through no fault of their own. Despite being an introvert, Hope wakes up each day motivated to help youth find their voice, begin healing, and become more aware of their worth and value. Prior to nonprofit work, Hope worked at a behavioral health center and co-facilitated parenting classes and supervised visitations within families.
Hope lives with her husband and energetic preschool son. She loves to read, write, binge watch her favorite TV shows, and spend time with her family when she is not working. Hope is eager to do whatever it takes to help youth break free from the stigma of foster care, even in her free time.
As Program Manager for Sib-Link, Elise brings her adventurous spirit to sibling visits with the mantra, “You can’t say you don’t like something until you’ve tried it!” Elise experienced foster care as a child, with her twin sister, and moved all over South Carolina to different placements. From her lived experience she is deeply invested in sibling connections for children experiencing out of home placement.
Elise is a lifelong learner and is currently working on her Bachelor’s Degree. She holds Associate Degrees in Psychology and Early Childhood Development. Elise believes family is most important and that all children need a foundation of love and support from family and nurturing adults. She says, “When you pour into people, they pour into you.” Elise is a mother, and in her free time she loves spending time with her son, as well as reading, shopping and thrifting.
Julie has a degree in Organizational Management and loves working with people. She holds a teaching certificate in Montessori education, and was formerly the Director of a Preschool. She has also worked in a Children’s Hospital helping children who are diagnosed with Cancer. Julie is known for her enthusiasm and passion for children, especially connecting those who have been separated in foster care.
Julie loves to read, kayak and hike. She lives with her husband and black lab, Chloe (the love of her life!), and has an adult daughter who works in a nonprofit, as well.
Kendal is married with 2 bio children and 2 bonus children. She has been a foster parent for about ten years, and usually has 1-3 children living in foster care in her home at any time. Kendal is involved with her local foster parent association working to support families and social services.
Kendal spent 13 years working for the Department of Social Services. She is passionate about working with the children and families, and believes strongly that this is her calling. When she can find free time, Kendal enjoys reading, being out on the family boat, walking, crafting and traveling. She is excited to be a part of the team and the great work that is being done!
Dena has a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, and excels in sales. She is a Certified Peer Support Specialist, helping other women in their recovery from addiction. She was named a Reunification Hero by the American Bar Association (ABA) in 2021, and and was awarded Peer Support Specialist of the Year in 2021 by the Addiction Professionals of South Carolina (APSC).
Her personal journey with addiction fuels her work each day. After losing custody of her youngest son to her ex husband, Dena understands the trauma, shame and loss involved with social service involvement. This first-hand experience allows her the opportunity to support, encourage, and teach moms through their losses.
Dena lives with her husband, is active in the recovery community, and is working each day to leave a legacy behind of helping women in addiction. In her free time, you’ll find Dena cooking, studying or riding a motorcycle with her husband and friends.
Latece has a degree in Human Services, and significant experience working in youth development. Her work experience includes managing and directing multiple programs for teens. Latece is known for her ability to encourage and support others through teaching, training, and relationship-building based on trust. Her greatest desire is to promote empathy, understanding, forgiveness, and love - and she is all of this, every day.
Latece lives with her husband of 21 years, and her two daughters. When she is not working, you will find Latece teaching bible studies, leading her book club, and speaking to youth. Other interests include acting in Broadway Shows, singing, and play production/management.
Tori is most well-known for her unending commitment to advocating for youth in foster care. Her lived experience growing up in foster care is the driving force behind her career. Since completing her degree in history, Tori has worked in a variety of roles supporting foster youth. Before coming to FGI, Tori managed a teen empowerment program and administered section 8 housing vouchers, which secured housing for young adults who were homeless after leaving foster care. Tori serves on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Office of the Child Protection Ombudsman and Office of the Child's Representative. She is deeply motivated by making young people in foster care feel seen and loved.
Tori married her high school sweetheart, and they live together with their daughter and dogs. One of Tori’s favorite hobbies is cake decorating and she enjoys spending time in the mountains.
Paige is a foster and adoptive mom who knows the value of a community of support. Her professional life has been spent educating and supporting people as they walk through life’s joys and hard places. Through her time as a foster mom, she has experienced reunification, adoption, and the powerful bond of siblings. Her passion for caregiver support comes out of her own experience as a part of the foster community. She wants everyone to know they are not alone on this beautiful, life-giving journey.
In her free time, Paige enjoys going on adventures with her family, playing pickleball, thrifting, and being outdoors.
Our Board of Directors
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