Gov. Snyder praises WMU foster youth program

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Photo of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder

Gov. Snyder

KALAMAZOO--In his State of the State address yesterday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder singled out a Western Michigan University program for praise, triggering a round of applause in the Michigan House chamber at the state Capitol.

The WMU program is one that focuses on young people who have aged out of foster care and need support--the kind that families usually provide--to be successful in college.

"I want to give special recognition to WMU, which is already providing support for 141 young adults in this age group through the Seita Scholars program," Snyder said.

Snyder tied his praise to recent moves to extend state support to age 21 for students who have aged out of the foster care system. He signed such a bill late last fall, and one of WMU's Seita Scholars was invited to speak at that ceremony.

WMU began its Foster Care Youth in Higher Education initiative in fall 2008, offering full-tuition scholarships, a year-round campus home, and intense personal and academic support to students in what has become the largest and most comprehensive program of its kind in the nation. This year, 141 students are part of the program, and some of the first students who started with the program in 2008 will graduate.

Students in the program are called Seita Scholars--a name that honors Dr. John Seita, a former foster care youth, a three-time WMU alumnus and one of the nation's leading advocates for foster care children.

Private support for WMU's efforts has come from such organizations as the Kellogg Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the AT&T Foundation, the Binda Foundation, the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and the Upjohn Foundation. Support also has come from the Michigan Campus Compact, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Speckhard-Knight Charitable Foundation and a number of individual donors.