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The Road to the Finish Line: Support for Youth in Post Secondary Settings Great Expectations

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The Road to the Finish Line: Support for Youth in Post Secondary Settings Great Expectations An Initiative of Virginia’s Community Colleges & the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education. Serves foster youth 13 – 24, in both high school and college.

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The Road to the Finish Line:

Support for Youth in Post Secondary Settings

Great Expectations

An Initiative of Virginia’s Community Colleges & the

Virginia Foundation for Community College Education

about great expectations
Serves foster youth 13 – 24, in both high school and college.

Focuses on the value of a college education as the best way to gain employment and achieve independence.

Provides education and employment opportunities that will improve the likelihood of success for foster youth.

Offers individual support for at-risk foster teens as they finish high school, leave their foster homes and transition to postsecondary education and living on their own.

About Great Expectations
about great expectations1
About Great Expectations

Launched in 2008 at 5 Virginia Community Colleges.

Now offered at 15 of the 23 community colleges; 2 additional colleges joining in 2012.

Patrick Henry

Piedmont Virginia

Southside Virginia

Southwest Virginia


Virginia Highlands


  • Danville
  • Germanna
  • J. Sargeant Reynolds
  • John Tyler
  • Lord Fairfax
  • Mountain Empire
  • New River
  • Northern Virginia
great expectations services
Help with the college admissions/financial aid

Resource Center

Personal counseling and individual tutoring

Career exploration and coaching; job preparation

Mentoring (by college staff, college peers and community volunteers)

Special programs, e.g. life skills, healthy relationships

Emergency and incentive Funds

Online Best Practices Forum

Great ExpectationsServices
starting a new program
Starting a New Program



Part-time Campus Coaches

Recruiting students in rural areas

Building awareness of the program in the community

Setting boundaries

Lack of housing


  • Support of the college’s admin.
  • Special training for Campus Coaches
  • Coordination with other depts. (e.g. financial aid,student success, counseling, tutoring)
  • Special programs
  • Emergency funds
it takes a team
The Great Expectations Campus Coaches are the key!

Coaches are…..the go-to person who musters the other services available on the campus and in the community for the students

The team includes….the high school career coaches, DSS workers

foster and adoptive parents, volunteer mentors

interns and work/study students, community supporters

It Takes a Team!
college is within reach
Virginia’s Community Colleges have Tuition Grants available for foster youth, former foster youth and special needs adoptees who have a high school diploma or GED.

The Tuition Grant covers tuition and fees.


- Enrolls and maintains at least half-time credit in an academic program of at least 1 year

Is a bona-fide resident of Virginia

Meets the satisfactory standards of the college for federal aid programs- Has not been previously enrolled full-time in a postsecondary program for more than 5 years and does not have a bachelor’s degree

- Demonstrates a financial need

College is within reach
workforce development services o
Workforce Development Serviceso

- Career Coaches

  • Middle College
  • Virginia Career Readiness Certificate
  • Apprenticeship Related Instruction – working with sponsoring employers
  • Occupational Instruction (for certifications and licenses)

- Institutes of Excellence (for high demand occupations)

  • Postsecondary Perkins (to continuously improve career/technical education)
  • Business & Industry - courses to meet VA professional and occupational regulations for Engineers, Architects, Contractors, Land Surveyors, etc.
  • Customized Training for more than 170 participating companies
  • Virginia Education Wizard

For more information on VCCS Workforce Development:

project statistics o
Project Statisticso
  • Served over 700 foster youth in the past 3 years
  • 15 colleges currently participating
  • More than 500 enrolled in fall 2011 (67% college; 11% hs; 22% dual)
  • Hundreds of workforce development certification pgms. available
  • 68 foster youth have earned workforce certificates
  • 8% of those eligible have graduated with an associate’s degree or workforce certification
  • 66% of those in the high school program graduated
  • 130 students are over 21

- 26 staff

- Emergency funds have been used for housing, transportation, utility bills, medical care, books and, in special cases, loss of financial aid.

economic analysis o
Economic Analysiso

“Measuring the Costs of Foster Care and the Return on Investment of the Great Expectations Initiative,” produced by ChmuraEconomics&Analytics, provided these highlights:

  • Costs of foster care include economic costs and social costs.
  • The total annual costs for Virginia foster youth are estimated to have been $29.7 million in Virginia in 2010, or $41,460 per aging-out foster youth.
  • Foster youth tend to have lower educational attainment, are more likely to utilize public assistance, and are more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system.
  • Community college students who were foster youth achieved lower academic performance than the VCCS student body at large. They were also more likely to have part-time jobs while attending school than other students.
  • The WIA (Workforce Investment Act) participants who were foster youth tended to have lower educational attainment and lower skill levels than other WIA youth.
economic analysis o1
Economic Analysiso
  • On an individual level, each foster youth who drops out of high school costs the public sector $209,100 over a lifetime due to lost wages and greater need for public support services. (National Governor’s Association Report 2010)
  • The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, when discussing college completion rates in general, found, “A single year’s college degree production accounts for $349 million in Social Services cost savings to the Commonwealth.”
  • Currently, there are more than 500 students enrolled in Great Expectations programs across the state. If the programs are successful in eliminating the achievement gaps in terms of economic and social outcomes, GE can save Virginia $10.1 million per year, far more than the 1.5 million annual cost of the program.
what our students say
“I want to become a chef and open my own restaurant. Great Expectations is important because it shows there’s a support system. Someone else is out there who cares about helping you.”

- Heather, age 18

What Our Students Say
contact information
Contact Information

Carol Underhill

Project Director of Great Expectations

Virginia Community College System

101 N. 14th Street, 15th floor Richmond, VA 23219

(804) 819-5397

[email protected]