The Center for Fostering Success was officially approved by Western Michigan University's Board of Trustees in 2012. Our mission is to improve college graduation and career achievement rates among youth and young adults (12 to 25 years old) aging out of the foster care system. In alignment with the WMU’s mission, the activities of the Center are learner-centered and discovery driven. We provide leadership that informs teaching, research, learning, and public service as it relates to the topic of foster care and higher education. The knowledge and innovations developed within the Center for Fostering Success is focused on action in applied settings.

The Center is led by Dr. Yvonne Unrau, Professor of Social Work and Director of the Center for Fostering Success, who teams with Ronicka Hamilton, Director of the Seita Scholars Program to shape the activities and direction of the Center’s goals and activities. The Center reports to the Provost, Office of Academic Affairs.

The Center has two major programs:

The above two programs work collectively to accomplish the goals of the Center, which are to:

  • Create successful transitions from foster care-to-college and college-to-career for students through the experience of higher education.
  • Educate the community in the college-to-career pipeline about the needs, challenges, and discovery-driven solutions related to students from foster care.
  • Develop leaders among alumni of foster care to enhance the greater community and society.
  • Connect strong and enduring networks addressing needs of youth and alumni of foster care in relation to higher education and career.


The Center for Fostering Success and its programs has received numerous awards over the year for its innovative and cutting edge approaches to serving college students who experienced foster care placement on or after their 13th birthday. Each award was made possible by the many dedicated team members that make up the center. This includes leadership, staff and students. 

  • 2018 Excellence in Innovation Award
    This unit award recognized the Seita Scholars program at WMU as a powerful solutions to expanding higher education opportunities for young people who aged out of foster care. The award included a $100,000 prize. Awarded by The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
  • 2017 Project Degree Completion Finalist
    This unit award recognized and showcased The Center for Fostering Success for exemplary efforts to improve student retention and completion. Award finalists have key roles at the 2017 Association of Public & Land Grant Universities (APLU) national meeting.
  • 2017 UASC Assessment Excellence Unit Award
    This unit award recognized outstanding efforts of the Seita Scholars Program for its systematic collection and use of the results of student learning and academic program quality to demonstrate program improvement. Awarded by the University Assessment and Steer Committee, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.
  • 2017 Beacon Award
    This unit award recognized Fostering Success Michigan as an organization that strengthens success through partnerships. Awarded by the Michigan College Access Network. Lansing, MI.
  • 2014 Youth Thrive Award
    This unit award recognizes the Center for Fostering Success as one of 15 programs in the United States that are making a critical difference in the lives of foster care youth. Awarded the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP). Washington, DC.

CAMPUS AND Community partners


  • Academic Advising Offices
  • AFSCME Local 1668 (service union)
  • Career and Student Employment Services
  • Center for Academic Success Programs
  • Children's Trauma Assessment Center
  • Counseling Services
  • Dining Services
  • Disability Services for Students
  • Division of Multicultural Affairs
  • Division of Student Affairs
  • First-Year Experience
  • LBGT Student Services
  • Office of Admissions
  • Residence Life
  • Sindecuse Health Center
  • Student Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • WMU Department of Public Safety


  • Community Mental Health
  • Community Volunteers
  • Foster Care Youth Boards
  • Samaritas (Education and Training Voucher)
  • Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
  • The New Foster Care

 Major support for the Center for Fostering Success

  • Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
  • Dean and Lynn Fiegel (Endowment for Foster Youth)
  • Guido A. and Elizabeth H. Binda Foundation
  • Harold and Grace Upjohn Foundation
  • Havirmill Foundation
  • John M. and Linda T. Dunn (Endowment for the Seita Scholars Program)
  • Kalamazoo Community Foundation
  • Paul and Bonnie MacGrayne (Student Scholarships)
  • Peter and Laurel Northouse (Seita Leadership Endowed Scholarship)
  • Peter R. and Elizabeth M. Seaver (Endowment for Foster Youth)
  • Speckhard-Knight Charitable Foundation
  • State of Michigan
  • The Kresge Foundation
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation