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Reach Higher Summit helps foster kids focus on college

Reach Higher Montana

Reach Higher Montana is hosting its 13th annual summit on helping foster kids prepare for their future.

The program helps students from freshmen to seniors focus on their post-secondary education.

Rhonda Safford has been with Reach Higher Montana since 2005 and says a lot has changed.

“Five years ago we added on a life skills component, and I think that adds a lot to it, because you have those kids who think, ‘I can't go to college,’ they think they have certain barriers that hopefully we can sometimes alleviate,” said Safford.

This year there are 54 foster kids who came from all over Montana to learn about time management, how to apply for Pell Grants, among other things.

Kaitlin Jackson, who is no longer in foster care, works with the organization and says it’s great to give back.

“Some of us don't graduate high school, some of us don't go to college, so graduating high school for me was a really big deal, because I wanted to drop out my senior year, and becoming a part of the youth advisory board and making a change is a really big deal for a lot of us,” said Jackson.

According to the National Foster Youth Institute, only 10 percent of foster kids go to college, and 3 percent graduate college. But Jackson says those odds can be beaten, especially if you have a support system.

“I have to say my grandparents. They took me in when I was 16 and was not an easy child. But no matter where I am, I know that they are my home, my safe place, and I can go to them without fear of judgment,” said Jackson.

Jackson says she’s planning on attending the University of Montana to study nursing or social work. But she just really wants to help people.

Those who attend the summit will receive a laptop to study in college.

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