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CSU Program Assists Foster Care Youth in Pursuing Higher Education

A combined gift from Frank and Barbara Sullivan and Jenniffer and Daryl Deckard of $2.3 million is providing high school seniors aging out of foster care with scholarships and support to attend Cleveland State University.

The Sullivan/Deckard Opportunity Scholarship program guides youth who age out of the foster care system through the college application process. Once enrolled at CSU, Sullivan/Deckard Scholars, benefit from a comprehensive support system. The program provides scholarships for tuition and living expenses as well as on-campus employment through the work-study program.

CSU is one of only a few universities identified nationally that offer such support. The first cohort of graduating high school seniors enrolled at CSU in 2015 and a new group of scholars will join the program in the fall of 2016.

“Through my work with Fill This House, a nonprofit that provides basic household necessities for independent living, I have met many bright and hardworking young people within the foster care system who dream of earning a college education and building a better future for themselves. Our intent is to help provide the support students need to begin their adult lives on a pathway to success," said Barbara Sullivan.

"Having opened our hearts and our home as foster parents, our family recognizes this great need in our community. We are eager to enhance the opportunities available to children who have been placed in foster care that come as a result of college completion. We feel privileged to partner with the Sullivan family and CSU in this holistic approach," added Jenniffer Deckard.

Many individuals in foster care experience an abrupt end in services from the foster care system upon turning 18 years old, when they are considered fully independent adults. National studies have estimated that fewer than half of these young adults apply to college, and less than 10 percent of those who apply graduate with a degree.

"Through the generosity of the Sullivans and Deckards, and in collaboration with our community partners, we are creating an avenue of access that will allow deserving students to thrive within the university community," said CSU president Ronald M. Berkman.

Interested applicants may contact the CSU Division of University Engagement at