United States

Meet RSM Pursue Your Passion Winner: Mya Gonder

ARTICLE  | 

NASC Tax Manager | Charlotte, North Carolina

My vision is to create a program to aid in providing foster children resources and training to help them transition from foster care into successful, independent adults.

Equality means treating everyone the same and giving everyone access to the same opportunities. Meanwhile, equity is offering varying levels of support based on the needs of the recipients. These words are important to me and they have shaped my passions, interests and concerns.

I grew up in a single household with my mother. My mother always expressed the importance of giving back to those who are less fortunate. Our family accomplished this by caring for foster kids. For as long as I could remember, my mom was a foster mom. We would regularly welcome kids into our home and give them as much love as we could, but then eventually, we would have to let them go and be free to face the world.

Though I had a revolving door of foster brothers and sisters, a handful remained close to the family. We were close enough to follow their care until they got to a certain age and then they were “aged out.” When a child in foster care turns 18, or when they graduate from high school, whichever comes first, they are usually deemed to have aged out of foster care. This means that they are no longer in the foster care system and are now solely responsible for their well-being. There are so many kids with the same story. They have aged out of the foster care system with minimal help and resources.

National Foster Youth Institute reports that more than 23,000 children will age out of the U.S. foster care system every year. After reaching the age of 18, 20% of those children will become instantly homeless. Furthermore, there is less than a 3% chance that children who have aged out of foster care will go on to earn a college degree during their life. Also, one out of every two children who age out of the foster care system will develop a substance dependence. So there is a need of a program to help these foster care children during the critical transition period of 15 – 22 years old.

I would like to help foster care children and those who have aged out of foster care make that difficult transition into society by providing resources and training. I would like to develop a network of providers to collaborate with local organizations to:

  • Purchase items to help aged out foster children set up their first home;
  • Provide mentoring;
  • Provide tutoring;
  • Provide college readiness training;
  • Provide employment  opportunities;
  • Provide financial literacy training; and
  • Provide independent life skills training.