5 Awesome Ways to Help Kids in Foster Care, by Heather Lei

Currently, there are over 400,000 kids in the foster care system in the United States. Children and youth enter into the system because they, or their families are in crisis. Often, they have been removed from their parents because they are unsafe, abused, or neglected. These kids are displaced from their homes—and sometimes—even their schools and/or towns. They are often moved from home to home, and live in a state of instability.

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5 Things I Want My Mentee to Know Before Entering High School, by Heather Lei

GirlwithBookIt seems so long ago that I was walking around the bustling halls of my high school. My hair was platinum blonde, I had a ballet-slipper pink backpack, and I walked around with a sense of determination. I was known as “the singer”. It was a fitting name since I spent nearly all of my time either in choir, singing lessons, singing competitions, or shows. I would also go around campus singing everywhere—in classrooms, in bathrooms, in the halls—it didn’t matter. I was most happy when I was singing, and so, I sang everywhere!

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Dear Youth: a letter to all foster kids, by Brian Morgantini

AloneDear Youth,

When I turned eighteen, I became homeless in the winter in Scranton, Pennsylvania. That was hard, guys. It was the hardest thing that I had ever had to deal with, and that’s saying something! This wasn’t foster care’s fault. It was mine. It was my choices. It was my actions. We all know what consequences are, right? Well, I finally realized what that meant when I had to sleep under a car, with no blankets. When I say sleep, I mean that I was sitting there, wide awake, afraid to sleep because I was scared every single day. I didn’t know where I was going in life. I didn’t even know where I could live in the near future. The cold kept me awake, but my fear of finding a home to live in, on my own, was the worst part of this situation. I had no options. Remember, I pushed away every foster parent, caseworker and person in my family. I really messed up and regret that I did that.

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Girls Rock: empowering girls through music education, by Heather Lei

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 10.46.02 AMIt’s March, which means it’s Women’s History Month! A perfect time on the calendar to bring focus to a powerful movement that is, right now, in the process of making history and shaping the lives of girls. 

The Girls Rock Camp Alliance is an international coalition of organizations, empowering girls and imparting skills that can help guide them throughout their lives. What tools are they using? Music lessons, workshops, group activities and performances! While every Girls Rock program is different, some have year-round classes offered—in addition to summer camps. Girls Rock Santa Barbara, for instance, offers an after-school rock band, private music lessons, toddler rock, an amplify pop choir, music journalism, and even photography and filmmaking classes.

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The Power of Mentoring: getting kids out of gangs and into college, by Heather Lei

_MG_7985 (1)Several years ago, on a beautiful night, my sister and I walked together through Downtown Disney; everything was lit up as sections of the bustling crowds broke off into various restaurants and stores. I don’t remember how the topic came up, but we were soon discussing the crime rates in Modesto and Stockton, California, both of which had skyrocketed in previous years. As my sister discussed the use of a greater police presence, my heart sank. The thought of people going to jail and being stripped of their families and communities broke my heart. I knew all about the crimes that the jailed had done, and even though they were horrible, something inside of me knew that there was a better way: that we didn’t have to solve the problem with guns and bars – that there had to be a way to stop the problem before it ever began.

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