PBS SoCal Launches “To Foster Change” – a Public Awareness Initiative about Southern California’s Foster Youth

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LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–PBS SoCal today launched “To Foster Change” – a public media initiative
aimed at fostering change in the realities and life outcomes for
Southern California’s foster youth. The campaign launches with three
public awareness spots in which foster youth tell their own real stories
of challenge, hope and success. Viewers are invited to visit tofosterchange.org,
where they’ll find more inspiring stories about our community’s foster
youth, learn more about the important work that’s being done in the
foster youth community – and to find out how they can get involved in a
variety of very simple ways. The campaign was made possible in part by a
three-year $1.7
million grant
by the Conrad
N. Hilton Foundation
.


“Our mission is to use the power of public media to highlight important
stories that build understanding of critical issues, and spark dialog
and progress,” said Andrew Russell, President and CEO of PBS SoCal.
“This initiative builds on our experience addressing key issues in our
neighborhoods – such as school readiness among young children through
our Ready to Learn initiative.”

The “To Foster Change” initiative is comprised of three core activities:

  • Community conversations: Hosted conversations between
    stakeholders, service providers, schools, agencies and leaders in the
    foster community to discuss key issues, generate ideas and motivate
    collaborations. The discussions include a focus on how public media
    storytelling can build awareness and understanding of the work being
    done for foster youth.
  • Content: Original documentaries, PSAs, web series and social
    content will raise awareness across a broad audience about the issues
    and needs of this vulnerable population of children. Broadcast and
    digital content will also reveal and reinforce the valuable
    contributions and accomplishments of those working with foster youth
    in this region, showing viewers that every little success counts. The
    community conversations will help identify priorities, key themes,
    partners and important stories for our content creation efforts.
  • Direct Youth Engagement: PBS SoCal will offer transition
    age foster youth – those who are approaching the legal age of 18 – a
    place to express themselves through storytelling. Mentorship,
    internships and other workforce development opportunities – all
    valuable in a city where 1 in 7 jobs are in the creative industries –
    will also be offered.

Three public awareness spots will air on PBS SoCal KOCE during
prime-time this week, and will be viewable at tofosterchange.org/meet.
They tell three very different – and inspiring – stories about foster
youth in Southern California, in their own words:

“Jessie” – Airs Wednesday, November 30, at 9:28 p.m.
Jessie
is a young man and former foster child who channeled his childhood love
for coloring books into a career as an abstract art muralist. “As a
young kid, my favorite thing to do was coloring books. It wasn’t until
high school that I got into graffiti art. That was my way of expressing
myself and getting rid of all the frustration and emotions I had of
dealing with all the dysfunction in the house. Murals that I do in
different areas – hopefully there’s someone young or old that sees it
and gets inspired by it in some way shape or form. I’m blessed to create
something beautiful that derives from pain – and share it with the
world,” Jessie says.

“Shelita” – Airs Thursday, December 1 at 9:57 p.m.
Shelita
is a singer and former foster youth who, as a child, drew inspiration
from Maya Angelou’s book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
“Instead of having parental figures to help me choose and guide my
future, I had to create my own future. And I had to create my own
family. It doesn’t matter what kind of family you’re born into. It
matters who you become and what you choose to become,” says Shelita.

“Calvin” – Airs Saturday, December 3 at 8:28 p.m.
Calvin is
a single gay man who lovingly adopted two young brothers, whom he
fostered for 16 months. “There are so many kids out there that really
need a home. And I think the biggest misconception is that there’s
something wrong with these kids. My boys have challenges, but guess
what? So do other kids. It’s our job as parents to figure out those
challenges and help them out. It’s that simple,” Calvin says.

“We have been so inspired by the foster youth we’ve spoken to over the
last several months. So we want to change the narrative about the foster
youth community by telling their stories in authentic ways,” said Jamie
Annunzio Myers, COO and VP of Education and Community Engagement at PBS
SoCal. “By convening the community to find creative solutions – plus
providing transition-age foster youth with tools that will help them in
life, school and career – we hope to help these amazing young people
thrive.”

A study by the Conrad
N. Hilton Foundation
discovered that in the first four years after
leaving the foster care system, one in three foster youth receive food
stamps, less than half report any earnings, and only 25 percent have
consistent employment. That is due in large part to the fact that many
foster youth are abandoned a second time when they age out of the system
equipped with few of the personal, educational or vocational resources
they need to succeed in the next step of their lives. However, research
from Measuring Resiliency and Its Predictors in Recently Discharged
Foster Youth
indicates the availability of social support, having
independent living skills competence, and maintaining contact with
former foster parents all provide foster youth with resiliency that
helps them navigate the challenges necessary to succeed in school, life
and career. “To Foster Change” will include a focus on tools that
ultimately ease that transition – resulting in change.

About PBS SoCal KOCE

PBS SoCal KOCE is home to PBS for Greater Los Angeles and Southern
California, dedicated to fostering a love of learning, culture and
community using the power of public media. We deliver the full schedule
of high-quality PBS programs, plus content that is for, about and by the
people of Southern California. We make our content available for free
through three broadcast channels – PBS SoCal 1, PBS SoCal 2 and PBS
SoCal World – and online at pbssocal.org.
And we reach deep into the community through partnerships, events and
grassroots outreach, providing early education resources and access to a
broad array of arts and culture experiences. PBS SoCal has offices in
Downtown LA, Century City and Costa Mesa. Learn more at pbssocal.org
and follow PBS SoCal on Facebook,
Twitter,
YouTube
and Instagram.

Contacts

PBS SoCal
Jennifer Vides, 310.803.9008
JVides@pbssocal.org
or
Stacy
Shaffer, 714.241.4166
Sshaffer@pbssocal.org