Fostering Laker Success

Welcome to Fostering Laker Success

Fostering Laker Success is a GVSU’s campus-based program that works with youth who have experienced foster care and other out of home placements.

Our Mission is student success!  Program participants will have access to key resources that can help students succeed in their personal, academic, and professional lives.  Participants will also gain a community of supportive staff and mentors to assist you in reaching your goals.

 Program Eligibility:

  • Have been in an eligible foster care or non-secure delinquency placement supervised by the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) at age 14 or older
  • Are you younger than 23
  • Out-of-home placement/homeless youth 

Fostering Laker Success Program Information

To be eligible for Fostering Laker Success, you must be accepted to Grand Valley State University. Have experienced foster care after the age of 14 and are younger than 23. And agree to actively participant in program activities.Fostering Laker Success works in partnership with the student. We develop goals and outline the steps to achieve those goals. Students are required to:  

  •  Meet with coach 1x a week
  • Attend 1 FLS event per month
  • Meet with mentor 4x per month

For additional questions please contact Brandy Thompson, M.A, Independent Living Skills Coach for Fostering Laker Success; [email protected] or 616-331-8864.

Fostering Laker Success Participant Application - Apply For Program

Becoming a mentor to program participants is a great way to get involved with Fostering Laker Success. Mentoring is a proven to produce positive outcomes for both mentors and mentee. As a mentor you will serve as a campus connector, helping students navigate campus, access certain resources, but most importantly you will serve as supportive adult on Grand Valley’s Campus.

“The weekly meet-ups I had with …my mentor was super helpful. I am grateful for the academic support and pushing me to become more outside of school!” - FLS participant

Prior to becoming a mentor, you will receive specialized training that will help you better understand working with youth who have experienced foster care. The state of Michigan also has some wonderful resources for mentors who work with youth that have experienced foster care.

  • Meet one on one with students enrolled in the program 4 hours a month minimum
  • Complete 8 hours of specialized training
  • Be willing to submit to background check
  • Sign confidentiality agreement
  • Complete electronic interaction reports

        Interested applicants can contact the Program Coordinator Brandy Thompson, [email protected] 

Alison McManus Walters ’73 Fostering Success Scholarship provides financial assistance to foster youth and ensure that financial need does not become a barrier to intellectual and personal growth while pursuing a degree at GVSU.

The Donald J. DeYoung Scholarship fund is designed to assist young people who have had contact with the Family Division of the Circuit Court and are interested in pursuing college or vocational education. Students may attend the educational institution of their choice.

The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) is an annual federal grant provided to states to fund youth who have aged out of the foster care system and who are enrolled in college, university and vocational training programs. Students may receive up to $5,000 a year based on their cost of attendance.

The Fostering Futures Scholarship (FFS) provides eligible youth who have experienced foster care with scholarship funds for tuition, fees, room/board, books, and supplies/equipment required for enrollment.

Foster Care to Success (FC2S) partners with organizations, foundations, and individuals to deliver scholarships to foster youth across the country. With this funding and our support, hundreds of young people reach their educational goals every year.

Fostering Success Michigan (FSM) is building a statewide network through a collective-impact strategy that strives to prepare young people in foster care between the ages of 12 to 25 across the state of Michigan for success in higher education and beyond. Their website organizes resources based on life domains, educational stage, or your current role.

Foster Youth in Transition (FYIT) funds are available to cover expenses not covered by other government or community resources, or to augment or supplement services from other funding sources.

Gay/Lesbian Adoptive/Foster Parent Scholarship Win a $750 scholarship–$500 towards your tuition and $250 towards living expenses.
We’ll also give a $250 donation to an adoption or foster-related non-profit organization.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation Scholarships, has been a major scholarship provider in Kent County, awarding more than $1 million every year to hundreds of students pursuing a higher education.

Grand Valley State University Scholarships

Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative’s (MYOI) goal is to ensure that young people in foster care have successful outcomes in housing, education, employment, community engagement and health. MYOI provides youth boards, community partner boards, training, financial matches, and stipends.

MiSSG Student Portal For students to have access to the MiSSG Student Portal, they must have a current-year Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file (typically received 3-4 days after submission) or have a Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) record.  First time student users must have their Social Security number when signing up to create a username and password.

The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) will award a minimum of four (4) $2,000 scholarships for the year. The unrestricted funds will be awarded once proof of post secondary education as been provided.

The National Foster Parent Association offers scholarships to NFPA members whose birth, foster and US adopted youth wish to further their education beyond high school, including college or university studies, vocational/technical school or junior college.  

Replenish, provides food and personal care items to meet the short-term challenges that students may face when unable to purchase such items. Replenish is located in Kirkhoff 0074.

The Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) is an incentive program that encourages eligible students to complete high school by providing tuition assistance for the first two years of college and beyond.

 UMPS CARE Charities All-Star College Scholarship is for children adopted later in life in order to provide a college education to students who otherwise might not be able to afford one. 


Fostering Laker Success was launched in 2017, as a result of a grant provided by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  In May of 2022 Fostering Laker Success was awarded another MDHHS grant for the continued support of foster care youth on GVSU campus.  View Grant Information

Learn about the statewide effort to improve graduation rates for youth who have experienced foster care by visiting

“I am truly grateful for the opportunities FLS has given me. Talking about life skills and getting hands-on experience on how it will look in the real world has prepared me on how to carry myself in trials and tribulations. Being able to talk about how I want my future to be and the tasks that I have to complete to get there has been very helpful too. I appreciate this program so much, and I am happy that I am able to be a part of it.”

FLS Participant
Picture of Student in program.

Donor Support

John Shinsky has served as an educator for 40 years; he came to Grand Valley as an associate professor of education in 2001. He served as a special education teacher, director of Special Education, and area administrator for Lansing Public Schools. Shinsky has received many awards for his educational contributions, including Grand Valley’s University Community Service Award and its Glen A. Niemeyer Academic Award. Shinsky has also received the Cesar E. Chavez Humanitarian Award, Dick Letts Community Service Award and the Paul Harris Fellow for International Service from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.

As a former orphan, Shinsky has committed his life to serving the needs of abandoned children. He and his wife were so kind to establish an endowment fund to support foster care youth attending Grand Valley.

John & Cindy Shinsky Fostering Success Endowed Fund

Support Our New Scholarship

Fostering Laker Success is participating in Giving Tuesday! Our goal is to fully support 10 students. We invite you to support our program,

  • $1500 - $3500 - Closes tuition gap for one student
  • $1500 - 3,500 - Pays for summer housing for one student 
  • $150 - $300 - Covers the cost of 1 textbook

Support our Fostering Laker Success Scholarship - Here

Fostering Laker Success Fund

Fostering Laker Success Fund allows us to provide assistance with: Rent Assistance, Automobile repair, Health Care Cost, Personal Care Items, Food, Bedding, and Graduation  Cap and Gown. (See  donation link below)


Picture of two students holding break baskets.


View on Facebook


Follow us on Instagram @gvsufls


Please consider supporting our program through making a tax deductible donation online Fostering Laker Success Fund. And if you are interested in planned giving, please contact University Development (616) 331-6000.


Give to Fostering Laker Success

Give Today

Page last modified February 2, 2023