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Bridging Success Early-Start Program for Former Foster Youth Entering ASU

ASU Bridging Success Early Start students and peer mentors August 2016

Fall 2016 Bridging Success Early Start students, peer mentors and program staff celebrate with Sparky!

This transition-to-college program builds on ASU’s successful Early-Start program model to target the unique needs of former foster youth. Key faculty and staff from ASU’s University College and the College of Public Service and Community Solutions are partnering to customize workshops, social support, and community-building activities so that foster youth meet peers, form relationships, and network with staff who will provide a strong safety net for them throughout their ASU experience. 

The grant helped support the Feb. 11, 2016, conference "Conquering Barriers and Bridging Success for ASU Foster Alumni," which brought professionals in the foster care-giving community together with administrative staff and faculty of the many ASU units working to support foster care alumni. Current ASU students who participated in the ASU Bridging Success Early-Start program for former foster youth also presented at the event, which was co-sponsored by ASU's University College and the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Studies show that while 70 to 80 percent of youth in foster care are interested in pursuing a college degree, less than 20 percent of qualified youth enroll in college. For those who do, retention and graduation rates fall far below the national average. We are pleased to share that data show that former foster youth who participated in Bridging Success Early Start at ASU in fall 2015 had a 10 percent higher retention rate than their peers who did not participate in the program (or 71 percent versus 61 percent). This program impact positions Arizona State University to become one of the leading universities in the country for foster youth success.


Hear more about the project in this November 2015 KJZZ radio interview with Bridging Success program coordinator Justine Cheung and ASU first-year student Cynthia Alaffa, a Bridging Success participant.

Read more about the project in these research articles:

Jennifer Geiger, Justine Cheung, Jeanne Hanrahan, Cynthia Lietz, Breanna Carpenter:  "Increasing competency, self-confidence, and connectedness among foster care alumni entering a 4-year university: Findings from an early-start program," Journal of Social Service Research, (JULY 20 2017).

Jennifer Geiger, Jeanne Hanrahan, Justine Cheung, Cynthia Lietz:  "Developing an on-campus program for foster care alumni," Children and Youth Services Review (JAN 12 2016), pp. 271-280.

Read about the experience of ASU Bridging Success Early-Start students:
"Bridging Success's Early Start program helps foster youth adjust to life on campus"
"Bridging Success helps foster youth reach potential"

ASU University College dean and Bridging Success student leaders

Student leaders from ASU’s Bridging Success program acknowledged University College’s support of the Bridging Success Early Start program, recognizing dean Duane Roen at a dinner hosted by the Bridging Success student organization to welcome incoming students in August 2016. (L to R: Duane Roen, Cynthia Alaffa, Erika (Jackie) Sotelo-Hernandez, Breanna Carpenter)

  • ASU Early-Start program

Principal Investigator
Jeanne Hanrahan

Funding agency: ASU Foundation / Women & Philanthropy

Date: 6/1/15 - 8/17/15

Amount: $36,297