Program provides free housing for former foster youth completing their college degree

SAN ANTONIO – For young adults who have aged out of the foster care system, it can be a challenge to finish college without the support and resources of a family. Now, three colleges in San Antonio are partnering with the THRU Project to break down the biggest barrier to higher education — finding a place to live.

Less than 3% of former foster youth obtain a college degree, according to a study from the University of Chicago.

Michelle Calleros is a senior at A&M San Antonio. She said she would do whatever it takes to make her dreams a reality.

“I plan on going to get my master’s degree,” she said. “I have to be on top of my grades because they’re really, really picky about that stuff.”

As a freshman and someone who aged out of the system, Calleros was working full-time, going to class full-time, and always looking for a place to sleep at night. But she made sure to find a place to study.

“I would be at IHOP at like two in the morning. I would like to go and get the WiFi from there or maybe Mcdonald’s,” she said. “My first year, school was like very, like, all over the place.”

Her sophomore year was much better, thanks to the support of the THRU Project. Calleros was placed in a dorm through the state-funded Supervised Independent Living program.

As the THRU Project extended to college students, she became one of 14 living in a two-bedroom apartment near campus.

Texas A&M San Antonio, UTSA and Alamo Colleges are now partnering with the THRU Project to help students make it to graduation.

“I try and picture myself now, like taking like my senior level classes that I’m taking, but like in the same situation. And I’m, like, I wouldn’t be passing my classes the way that I am,” Calleros said.

To remain eligible, she has to stay in touch with her resource coordinator, save money and get good grades. That’s a given for Calleros.

“My GPA is (chef’s kiss),” Calleros said.

The same is true for James Armbruster, another THRU program participant.

“I’ve seen where I was before to where I am now, and it lets me know that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to,” Armbruster said.

The only issue for organizers is finding the funds to help more former foster youth. The college program is funded entirely through donations. You can help in the Big Give by clicking here.

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