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:

  • Participant has 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.
  • Participant is younger than 23.
  • Participant has experienced 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 currently younger than 23.
  • Agree to actively participant in program activities.

Fostering Laker Success works in partnership with the student participants. We develop goals and outline the steps to achieve those goals. Participants 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

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.

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.

Requirements of a FLS Mentor include:

  • 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]


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. 

Learn about the statewide effort to improve graduation rates for youth who have experienced foster care by visiting Fostering Success Michigan's website.

“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
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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

Help close the academic and housing  gap  for foster care youth under the Fostering Laker Success Scholarship Fund

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


Donate to the Fostering Laker Success Scholarship 

Fostering Laker Success Fund

The Fostering Laker Success Fund allows us to provide assistance with:

  • Rent Assistance
  • Automobile repair
  • Health Care Cost
  • Personal Care Items
  • Food
  • Bedding
  • Graduation Cap and Gowns


Donate to the Fostering Laker Success Fund

Two students smiling while holding laundry baskets


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

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Page last modified March 18, 2024