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'Becoming a Better City': Local Foster Care Org Will Now Support Kids in Justice System

The Center for Fair Futures is celebrating its fifth anniversary and expanding its reach.
NYC's Fair Futures program celebrates its five-year anniversary in Manhattan.

The Center for Fair Futures is marking its fifth anniversary and expanding its horizons in Brooklyn and beyond.

Founded in 2019, the Center for Fair Futures is a local publicly funded coalition of more than 100 organizations that support children and young adults impacted by foster care, several of which are in Brooklyn. Starting this year, Fair Futures is working with children and young adults impacted by the juvenile justice system as well. 

Central to Fair Futures is its one-on-one coaching model, where participants are paired with a personal coach who will provide them with tutoring and guidance in areas including academics, career development and housing.

"We want every young person in New York City who is in foster care and the juvenile justice system to be eligible for coaching," said Tracy Jenkins, co-executive director of Fair Futures.

The nonprofit recently held an anniversary celebration, which was attended by First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, Public Advocate Jumanee Williams, Administrations for Children Services Commissioner Jess Dannhauser, City Council Member Rita Joseph and others.

Fair Futures coaches support nearly 4,000 New Yorkers from the sixth grade through age 26, according to its 2023 impact report.

According to ACS data, there were 6,717 children in foster care in New York City as of December 2022, with 1,609 of them in Brooklyn.

NYC's Fair Futures program celebrates its five-year anniversary in Manhattan. Photo: Supplied.

Fair Futures' unique coach-centered approach is "completely centered around really each young person's unique and individual interests, their needs, their circumstances and the goals that they have for themselves," said Jenkins.

This year, New York City Mayor Eric Adams has allocated $30.7 million in funding for the program, making NYC the first city in the U.S. to provide long-term support to individuals exiting the foster care system, according to the impact report.

Dareth Ogle, a lifelong Brooklynite who grew up in the foster system, experienced the benefits of the program firsthand. A Fair Futures coach supported her throughout her time in graduate school at the Metropolitan College of New York, where she earned a master's degree in public administration in 2021. 

Now she works as a paralegal with the goal of becoming an attorney.

"I gained more than just the coach — I gained a mentor," said Ogle.

NYC Public Advocate Jumanee Williams speaks at the Fair Futures celebration. Photo: Supplied.

Ogle said it was more difficult for those in foster care to get the support they needed before Fair Futures was implemented. 

"Social workers aren't able to do it all," said Ogle.

Another success the nonprofit is celebrating is the fact that NYC's eighth graders in foster care are entering high schools with an average graduation rate of over 89%. Before the implementation of Fair Futures, foster children were overrepresented in the city's lowest-performing schools. 

"I firmly believe that a bend in the road is not the end of the road, and it shouldn't limit a young person's opportunities," Adams said in a press release. "By expanding the Fair Futures program to include justice-involved youth, we are making true progress to becoming a better city."

Learn more about Fair Futures here.

Christopher Edwards

About the Author: Christopher Edwards

Christopher Edwards is a native Brooklynite and current student at Baruch College, majoring in Journalism and Creative Writing.
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