Did you know that only 10% of foster youth will attend college? And did you know that of that 10%, only 3% will graduate?
These alarming statistics motivated the formation of Avenues to College, a Portland Children’s Levy-funded program made up of five non-profits including: College Housing Northwest, New Avenues for Youth, Portland Leadership Foundation, PCC Future Connect and Alternative Pathways. Before this coalition was formed, there were no existing programs that brought together housing, the cohort model and the comprehensive wrap-around services approach that these students need to succeed.
As David Garnand, CHNW’s Executive Director has said from the beginning, “We are the brick and mortar in this equation. Housing is the foundation of what we do, and if you’ve tried to rent in Portland recently, you’ll know how difficult it is to find affordable options. CHNW strives to keep rental prices at least 15% below market. Currently, in Portland, our rents average a full 23% below market rates. In addition to the already subsidized rent, CHNW is able to offer the students in the Avenues to College cohort a streamlined application process, further rent reductions and a coordinated relationship with the academic and social support providers in the Avenues to College coalition,” says David.
Avenues to College is currently in the midst of the last year of a three-year grant from Portland Children’s Levy, with the possibility to extend the program to five years with additional funding if the program is deemed successful at the 3 year mark. CHNW measures the success of the cohort by how many students finish the second year of the program, which is when they move into the Goose Hollow student living community and begin their college experience at Portland Community College. This year, we have been able to offer an additional $500 per month rental subsidy to three students who formerly were involved in foster care/experiencing homelessness. Together, with our Avenues to College partners, we are improving the numbers of first-generation, former foster-care and formerly homeless students that graduate with a college degree.