Founded in 2006 by Boulder-based entrepreneur and philanthropist Milton Huffaker and his daughter, Sabrina, Forward Steps helps foster youth overcome immense barriers they face as they transition to adulthood. Utilizing the latest research and data on how to support at-risk youth as they work toward a trade certificate or degree, the organization combines a mixture of mentoring, coaching and financial assistance to produce the best outcomes for minority and under-resourced youth as they journey through college.
Executive Director Jennifer Falkoski, PsyD, says the program is uniquely designed to truly partner with our scholars to set them up to succeed at a very critical time in their lives.
“When they make the decision to enter college, they are saying that despite all that they’ve endured in their young lives, they are going to enter another new and difficult stage because they envision a future for themselves that is bright. Forward Steps says, ‘Yes, we believe in you and are there for you in whatever way you need to achieve not only your professional goals but by giving you the tools to live well throughout your life,’” says Falkoski.
Participants in the Guardian Scholars Program receive up to $6,000 per year in financial assistance; personal and professional development workshops; mentoring support; expert, personalized academic and career readiness services; and a College Prep 101 course.
“We approach our mission with a great deal of sobriety and practical understanding. We know that we are working with young people who have faced trauma and whose trust we’ll have to earn,” says Falkoski. They want every foster youth in the state to believe post-secondary education is a realistic option for them and that their potential is not capped by their ability to pay for school. They’re hoping to serve 35 students for the fall semester.
Learn more at ForwardSteps.org.
Additional organizations devoted to working with foster youth:
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Voices for Children Boulder
Did you know more than 2,500 children experience abuse and neglect each year in Boulder County and 300+are removed from their home and placed in foster care? CASA’s mission is to provide trained, court-appointed volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children. Children in these situations face difficult paths, complicated by the physical, psychological and emotional trauma they have experienced. Boulder Voices for Children is an advocate for children’s well-being and believes it can change the trajectory of their lives—one child, one family, one future at a time. vfccasa.org
Fostering Great Ideas
Advocates for children and teens struggling in the foster care system throughout the nation, Fostering Great Ideas restores hope to children in foster care through innovative ideas built on meaningful relationships. It brings ideas to life that enrich lives, restore hope, build impactful relationships, and grow community-wide engagement. Its commitment to children delivers substantial support during their foster care journey in order to reach attainable success. fgi4kids.org
Helen M. McLoraine Scholarship Program for Foster Care and Emancipating Youth (via the Denver Foundation)
This program was created to provide educational scholarships for individuals who have had to face extraordinary or challenging circumstances, have actively taken steps to improve their lives, and are committed to advancing their education. The Helen M. McLoraine Scholarship Program for Foster Care and Emancipating Youth offers educational scholarships for foster care youth who are emancipated or are in the process of preparing to emancipate from the foster care system in Colorado.
“Kellie and I have supported Forward Steps from its inception, both personally and through my company, Impact Wealth. When founder and client, Milton Huffaker, introduced the idea to me, I was hooked by his passion. We miss him very much, but his team continues to embrace that same passion every day.” — Anthony Harrigan, Chief Impact Officer at Impact Wealth