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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 current 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 contact Katrina de los Santos by email at or by phone at (614) 287-2861.

Frequently Asked Questions (and more!)

What are the current academic year Scholar Requirements & Expectations?

  • Be an enrolled student at Columbus State for Autumn and/or Spring semester(s)
  • Be a current or former foster youth
  • 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 current academic year!

Step One:
Log onto Cougar Connect (, 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 Scholar Network Kick-Off event

Step Three:
Attend the Scholar Network Kick-Off on August 9 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 Scholar Network Kick-Off

The Scholar Network Kick-Off 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 Kick-Off 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 the kick-off are officially inducted as Scholars. All meals and program materials are also included. Scholars who join the program after the autumn Kick-Off 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 - 4:00 p.m. Team building & Reflection
  • 4:00 p.m. Closing

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. 

Please Note: Other activities will be included on the CSSN autumn & spring semester calendars 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: Student Engagement 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. 

 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! We expect a record number of participants during the current academic year!

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

Student Engagement and Inclusion

Katrina de los Santos

Brett Welsh



Student Central

Misty Mahefkey


Financial Aid

Vena Hill


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

Augustine Munobe


Student Support Services (TRiO)

Carla Burnett

Dave Ewans



AEP Credits Count

Ju Leigh Serpa


Adjunct in Social Sciences

Kimberly Eckhart

OSU Bound Program

Chaka Wilson


Scholar Network Ambassador Coordinators

Caidyn Bearfield

Nikki Chinn


Student Advocacy Center 



Counseling Services


Intercollegiate Athletics

Justice / Safety / Legal Studies

William Murray IV


Off-Campus Resources

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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 ETV

Questions? Columbus State Students may contact Laura Adkins, Educational Training Voucher Ohio (ETV) at 440-253-0467.

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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:

Scholar House III

Scholar House III Flyer

Affordable Housing For Former Foster Youth
The Columbus Scholar House III is affordable housing for former foster youth, ages 18-24, pursuing at least 7 credit hours at a Higher Education Institution.

Scholar House III is currently seeking applicants, is conveniently located a mile away from Columbus State, and includes 30 fully furnished apartment units. For more information and to apply please select THIS LINK. If you have any questions about the application process please contact Gabriella Craft at, 614-398-8734. The Columbus State liaison for Scholar House III is Cassi Byrd at

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Bridges is a voluntary program available to young adults who left foster care in Ohio at ages 18, 19 or 20 and who are in school, working, participating in an employment program, or have a medical condition that prevents them from going to school or working. The program can help with rental support and more. Learn more at the link below:


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Family and Youth Law Center

Family and Youth Law Center provide free legal advice to a variety of folks including youth who are or ever were in foster care. Learn more in the link below:


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Ohio Reach

For more educational, housing, financial, and other important resources for students with a foster care background, please visit the Ohio Reach resource page: