PCSE Seed Grants in Action: Report #2 from Foster Care Support Project

Each year, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awards $5,000 seed grants to fund the launch or early-stage growth of a project, program, or venture. Foster Care Support Project (FCSP), run by Luke Lezhanskyy ’20, Katerin Osorto ’20, Ruby Lu ’19, and Angela Duong ’21, was one of this year’s winners. This is their second report since receiving funding from the PCSE in March 2019. Read their first report here.

Greetings and welcome to our second Foster Care Support Project update. My name is Kat Ortega Villanueva ‘20 and I am the coordinator for FCSP this semester. As our coordinator (Luke Lezhansky ‘20) from last semester takes new endeavors on the other side of the hemisphere, I will have the privilege to continue working on and expanding the Foster Care Support Project. 

I would first like to thank the Office of Community Service Orientation committee for helping FCSP get a head start on the semester! The OCS Orientation not only allowed us to discuss and brainstorm our goals among our own organization’s members but also allowed us to listen to the goals and perspectives from other organizations on campus. This experience has opened possibilities to collaborations with other OCS organizations with common goals to FCSP. In addition, the panel held during the orientation helped FCSP reflect on the fundamental necessity of different perspectives and keeping a clear vision and mission to always come back to. A similar sentiment was expressed in our discussion with Yale’s Dwight Hall coordinators (equivalent of the OCS at Wesleyan). As our discussion came to a close, we all agreed on moving forward with more regular collaborations/meetings. Opening, yet another door for FCSP to begin working with a new college partner this semester. 

On another note,  as the background checks for the new 8 members of FCSP are finalized, we  have organized a meeting session to welcome all 16 of our new and returning members! The purpose of such regular meetings will help create a stronger sense of community among the volunteers as they each learn more of the reasons why they are involved in our mission. All of these exercises will also mentally prepare volunteers for mandatory training that will be held in mid or late September to start visiting the center late September or early October. As the Fall 2019 Cohort begins to get up and running, the Spring 2020 Cohort (additional 8 members) will begin their background check process late September. It is through the PCSE Seed Grant that we are able to pay for half of the total cost for the background checks started in Spring 2019 and for the new background checks that will begin this semester. 

In keeping with the increasing interest by college students on our campus and participating Foster Care children in FCSP, the Sports Clinic will be held as a main event in the month of November. If logistical matters have a quick and positive result, the event may be moved up to October! This event will not only be the first opportunity for FCSP children participants to visit, and dine on a prestigious campus like Wesleyan but it will also allow them to visually grasp the reality of their mentor’s advice or experiences. Ultimately, leading them to reconsider what their own reality can also look like. This aspect of FCSP resonates entirely with our mission to reach all of the foster care children of connecticut. By listening to their needs, helping them believe in their goals and aspirations and seeing the result of those realizations first, we know we are one step closer to replicating our program in other schools and locations.   

With a strong understanding of the necessary steps, manpower, and money involved in building up the Sports Clinic, I am confident that our group of volunteers and board members have the capability and drive to make this happen! The PCSE Seed Grant will once again play a huge role in providing transportation for about 20 children and organizing the actual Sports clinic itself. I am eager to share with you all where this semester takes us and the growth that FCSP will have as a community! Stay Tuned!