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Foster Youth Support

Columbus State: Foster Youth Support

Enrolled students may join the Columbus State Scholar Network (CSSN)

Are you a current or former foster youth? Are you admitted and enrolled for the 2018-2019 academic year? Are you looking for leadership experiences and opportunities to get involved? Then make sure you register for Columbus State’s Scholar Network!

Please note: If you have questions about the Columbus State Scholar Network, don’t hesitate to email or reach out to Student Engagement and Leadership (614) 287-2637 or Global Diversity and Inclusion (614) 287-2426.

Frequently Asked Questions (and more!)

What are the 2018-2019 Scholar Requirements & Expectations?

  • Be an enrolled student at Columbus State for Autumn and/or Spring semester(s)
  • Be a current or former foster youth
  • Attend the Passport to Success Conference, August 23-24, 2018
  • Meet monthly with your assigned mentor
  • Participate in monthly Lunch and Learn Workshops
  • Complete academic and mentoring accountability forms
  • Follow a completion plan to graduation

How do I apply to become a Scholar?

Online applications are being accepted now for the 2018-2019 academic year!

Step One:
Log onto the Columbus State Hub (, create an account, and join the Scholar Network portal. You can apply on the portal or complete the online application via this link:

Step Two:
Applicants meeting the requirements of the program will be invited to R.S.V.P. for the Passport to Success Conference.

Step Three:
Attend the Passport to Success Conference on August 23-24 at the downtown Columbus campus (550 East Spring Street)


What is the Columbus State Scholar Network (CSSN)?

The Columbus State Scholar Network (CSSN) provides current and former foster youth with a network of support during your college journey. Columbus State’s Scholar Network includes a 2-day conference, ongoing mentoring, monthly Lunch & Learn Workshops, peer-to-peer support and other campus resources.
Students who actively participate as Scholars are eligible to receive stipends and other valuable incentives to help with their college success.

The core objectives of the program are designed to support students in building community, developing skills and gaining the confidence needed to succeed in college; students will:

  • Develop life-skills 
  • Build a community of support
  • Practice college success strategies
  • Engage in campus activities

Additionally, getting involved in the Columbus State Scholar Network will also build personal and professional skills that are necessary to succeed in your future career.

What does the Scholar Network value?

Holistic Support for Scholars

We value students and will carefully identify services to assist students in their personal and academic journey.

Mentoring and Engagement for Scholars

We value engaging students at every level of their college experience through support and coaching.

Achievement and Recognition for Scholars

We value achievement and recognize students who persist and rise to meet challenges in order to accomplish goals.

Please note:
All programs are held on the Columbus campus.
Transportation is provided to all of the off-campus activities

What are the benefits of becoming a Scholar?

  • Free registration for all events, including the Passport to Success Conference
  • Ongoing mentor support
  • Monthly Lunch & Learn Workshops
  • Leadership experience
  • Connections with peers
  • Free meals, giveaways and program workbook
  • Eligible participants may be eligible for stipends and other incentives

What is the Passport to Success Conference? August 23-24, 2018

The Passport to Success Conference is your ticket to ensuring a smooth transition during your academic and personal journey at Columbus State Community College. Adjusting from high school to college, or even from one college to another, can be very challenging. The Passport to Success Conference is a mandatory component of the CSSN program and will help you build the necessary skills to acclimate to college life. The conference is key to making new friends, building a network of support and getting a head-start to a great school year!

Participants who complete both days of the conference are officially inducted as Scholars at the conclusion of the conference and are awarded a certificate of induction. All meals and program materials are also included. Scholars who join the program after the Passport to Success conference will have a similar opportunity available in the spring semester.

What does a typical day look like? Schedule at a Glance :

  • 9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Registration & Breakfast
  • 9:30- 10:00 a.m. Icebreakers
  • 10:00- 12:00 p.m. Program Overview
  • 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Lunch
  • 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. Team building/Service Project
  • 3:00 - 3:30 p.m. Reflection

Please Note: This is a tentative schedule that may change.

What are the Lunch & Learn Workshops?

Workshops are hosted monthly for Scholars. Scholars are provided with lunch and participate in a knowledge-building workshop featuring hands-on activities to reinforce skills needed for success in college and life. The most important aspect of the workshops is Scholar attendance. The program is called a "network" because it focuses on developing connections with peers, Columbus State resources and community partners. During the workshops, Scholars will have the opportunity to strengthen friendships and learn about student success opportunities. Workshops are scheduled once each month. Tentative autumn workshop dates are as follows:

  • September 7, 2018
  • October 5, 2018
  • November 16, 2018
  • December 7, 2018

Please Note: Other activities will be included on the CSSN autumn semester calendar including campus events and off-campus socials.

What is mentoring and why is it a requirement of the Columbus State Scholar Network?

Scholars are matched up with a mentor during their first semester in the program, often through one of the college's mentorship programs. Mentors support Scholars for the entire academic year (or longer). Mentoring is a two-way mutually beneficial learning situation where the participants provide advice, share knowledge and experiences, and teach one another using a self-discovery approach.

Partner Mentoring Programs:

The Male Access Network (MAN) Initiative is a program that focuses on character-building and leadership development. The program is intended for male identified students at Columbus State who are interested in getting involved on-campus, connecting with other Columbus State men and receiving mentorship opportunities.

Women's Connection focuses on fostering character building, leadership development as well as personal, intellectual and relational growth of participants. Opportunities are provided for students to network and build relationships with their peers and employee mentors. Participants engage in visible activities on campus and the Columbus community while accessing resources to make strategic decisions about their future.

To learn more about these programs, please visit: Global Diversity and Inclusion Campus Life Programs

Additional mentoring programs offered at Columbus State:

First Generation One Trailblazers: GOT Online Mentors can help point you in the right direction. As a first generation student, you can sign up for an online mentor. Once connected, you can feel free to ask your mentor via email any questions you may have about being a college student. Further, your GOT Online Mentor will be your advocate while you are at Columbus State.To sign up for a GOT Online Mentor or to learn more, email and indicate that you're interested in having a mentor. One of our GOT Contacts will email you right back!

Career Services: Columbus State's Career Services Mentorship Program is designed to provide you with a formal channel to develop relationships with professionals employed in your field of interest! By joining the program and receiving a career mentor, you can gather information related to your chosen career, get a realistic view of the daily tasks, rewards, and challenges, establish an ongoing relationship with a professional in your field, and improve your communication skills. Contact for more information. 

Who are our Sponsors?

Columbus State Student Success Council
The Student Success Council is composed of faculty and staff members assigned to coordinate, integrate and evaluate student success initiatives at Columbus State.

Ohio Reach
Ohio Reach improves post-secondary outcomes for foster care youth and alumni through leadership, empowerment, advocacy, research and networking (L.E.A.R.N.) 

How did the Columbus State Scholar Program begin?

During spring 2014, a group of employees gathered to create S.P.A.R.K: Supporting foster youth to Prepare, Achieve, Realize and Keep their educational goals within reach. The S.P.A.R.K. members have been developing plans for the infrastructure to help current and former foster youth improve their academic success, retention, and completion rates. The S.P.A.R.K. team launched the NEW Columbus State Scholar Network for the first year in the Autumn of 2015; ten Scholars completed the program in May 2016 and eighteen Scholars completed in May of 2017!

S.PA.R.K. Contacts and Off-Campus Resources

Student Engagement and Leadership (SEaL)

Katrina De Los Santos


Global Diversity and Inclusion

Brett Welsh


Student Central

Misty Mahefkey


Financial Aid

Vena Hill


Center for Advising, Support, and Exploration (C.A.S.E.)

Chaka Wilson


Student Support Services (TRiO)

Carla Burnett


AEP Credits Count

Ju Leigh Serpa


Off-Campus Resources

Foster Care 2 Success & Educational Training Voucher

The Ohio Education and Training Voucher Program is a federally-funded, state-administered program designed to help youth who were in foster care. Students may receive up to $5000 a year for qualified school related expenses. Funding is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible students. Applicants must complete the ETV application which includes documentation each semester that is sent directly from the school to ETV confirming enrollment, the cost of attendance (COA) and unmet need.

Please visit this link to apply for the 18-19 school year.

Questions? Columbus State Students may contact Vena Hill, Financial Aid, 614-287-5547 (

Ohio Reach

Ohio Reach – a collaboration that includes Public Children Services Associates - Ohio (PCSAO), the Ohio Department of Higher Education (formerly the Board of Regents), the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies and many others – is dedicated to supporting the higher-education goals of former foster youth.

Ohio Reach

Ohio Reach is building a campus support system at community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities to help these youth overcome the challenges of emancipating from foster care, secure an education, and become employed. Learn more at

Foster Care Transition Toolkit

The U.S. Department of Education released the Foster Care Transition Toolkit to inspire and support current and former foster youth pursuing college and career opportunities. The Toolkit includes tips and resources intended to help foster youth access and navigate social, emotional, educational and skills barriers as they transition into adulthood. While the toolkit is written for foster youth, it’s also meant to be a resource for caseworkers, care givers, teachers and mentors to help foster youth. Please access the Foster Care Transition Toolkit here: