Creating Foster America
Founder Sherry Lachman has devoted her career to improving government systems that serve vulnerable children, first as an attorney and later as a policy maker. As she moved back and forth between the education and child welfare sectors, she noticed a critical difference. In the education field, dynamic, visionary, and innovative leaders were joining the education reform movement in great numbers and applying their skills to improve children's academic outcomes. In the child welfare field, by contrast, the leadership pipeline was thin. A small cadre of exceptional leaders were making a difference in isolation, but the system as a whole was failing to develop sufficient leadership capacity and attract diverse skill sets to tackle its most challenging problems at scale.
Foster America imagines a different future for child welfare - one in which the nation's brightest minds and greatest talents devote themselves to transforming life outcomes for children who are orphaned, abused, or neglected. In education - as well as health, immigration, and other underserved fields - highly-selective fellowship programs serve as the entry point for welcoming diverse talent. As fellows, these professionals produce positive results, and more often than not, they continue as long-term leaders in the sector. Foster America seeks to build on the successes of these models for the child welfare sector.
In the summer of 2016, we launched our pilot recruitment cycle. In under a month, we received resumes from more than 200 interested candidates. An inaugural cohort of eight fellows was chosen through a rigorous selection process. Fellows launched projects to improve outcomes for children and families in three host sites in October 2016.
In shaping Foster America as it has emerged today, we have collaborated with leaders and innovators from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. We are grateful for the support we have received from our partners and advisors, including the Center for the Study of Social Policy, The Halcyon Incubator, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Harvard Kennedy School, McKinsey & Company, and Deloitte. We also appreciate our earliest funders, who took a chance on us when Foster America was just an idea, including the Bruce and Marilyn Wallace Family Foundation, Eli and Edythe Broad, Leana and Marc Katz, the S&R Foundation, and the Parsons Foundation.
We hope you will join Foster America as we continue to build a movement. We invite you - as an individual, prospective fellow, donor, or volunteer - to support our work to change outcomes for our nation's most vulnerable children.