Rooted in what our founder has learned as a former foster youth/adoptee, marketing professional, social work student, foster youth advocate/mentor and person of faith, this page will give you access to the philosophy that influenced his design of Foster Leaders and the philosophy that will continue to guide him as he directs its daily operations. We respect the fact that his motivations for creating Foster Leaders may not reflect the personal values and beliefs of those who represent or support Foster Leaders in their respective communities, and want it to be understood that those beliefs and values are just as important to Foster Leaders as are those of our Founder’s.
It is our founder’s belief that, regardless of one’s background, each individual on this earth has a purpose. That purpose is rooted in a “higher power.” That higher power may be religious in nature or it may be something found in this world. Whatever it may be to a particular individual, it is what drives that individual and is what brings them peace and purpose at the end of the day. The higher power that influences our founder is found in the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). It is his belief that everything else requires a constant pursuit of something more, which is why many are hurting in this world. With that said, Foster Leaders operates with an understanding that each individual is on their own personal journey with their own set of values and beliefs. Foster Leaders does not intend to actively push people toward God. Rather, our founder is dedicated to using Foster Leaders as a vehicle to share his excitement about God’s Grace, Mercy, Love and Truth in the lives of others. In other words, that is what motivates him to put his time, effort and vision into Foster Leaders.
Foster Leaders is driven by the belief that we are all in this world to make a difference in the life of at least one other person. Any impact we are able to have in the lives of additional individuals is a bonus. Large-scale programs and services are significantly limited without the involvement of individuals who purposefully engage in the lives of those who are served by these programs and services. Foster Leaders will strive to identify the gift that each person is put in this world to give another and to provide them with tools to serve at least one other person with that gift. Foster Leaders will not accept any form of support that would restrict any service to those who benefit from Foster Leaders.
One does not have to have a high paying job or have influential status in the community to be a leaders. We operate under the belief that a leader is anyone who inspires others to become better versions of themselves. This means that everyone can become a leader, regardless of background, ability, and status. For example, those experiencing severe health issues may be limited in their ability to become independent, but they are still put in this world with the purpose to inspire.
The tool that is still used by most employers to measure an applicant’s level of skills and knowledge is the college degree. Some employers stress the amount of experience more than the degree. These two scenarios are especially troublesome for those who come from poverty or from other systemized settings like foster care. People from poverty and other systemized settings acquire college degrees at a substantially lower rate than their peers, and even when an employer stresses experience more than a college degree, these individuals often have limited connection to those who can provide the kind of experience employers are looking for. When you look at times when people have lifted themselves out of poverty, they have learned a trade and have become great at that trade, instead of spending most of their time memorizing information from textbooks that were written based on the perspective of a few individuals from different backgrounds. They learned from several experts in the field and practiced what they were learning. Learning from books and instructors is still important in the process of acquiring skills and knowledge, but nothing compares to spending a significant amount of your time physically practicing what you are doing and learning from a variety of perspectives.
Opportunities available to teens and adults who have been in foster care are usually attached to a set of education and workforce criteria that are established with little attention to the skills gap that exists between many foster youth and their peers in the general population. This gap is created by the inability of “a system” of individuals to maintain an effective balance between preparing foster youth for independence and protecting them from exploitation, as opposed to the ability of a family to make the decisions that create this balance in their child’s life when the foster care system is not involved. There are many foster families, caseworkers, and other positive adults who do their best to maintain this balance; however, the system often places obstacles in the way of them doing so. Foster Leaders operates on the belief that the focus on preparation should gradually increase as foster youth progress toward independence. We will support efforts that promote skills development and additional connections that will be beneficial to foster youth as they move into adulthood, while working alongside efforts designed to maintain a reasonable amount of protection.
Foster Leaders strives to promote an active dialogue that challenges actions and beliefs, while ensuring each person feels valued and worthy; regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, spiritual views, mental and physical abilities, gender identification, sexual orientation, political views or social status. Rather than being counterproductive when disagreements may occur, Foster Leaders seeks peaceful interaction between individuals and groups throughout the world; especially within a group like the foster/adoptive care communities, where there is so much passion at every level of the child and family services spectrum. Therefore, Foster Leaders encourages everyone to put aside their differences in order to work together to accomplish our goals of making these communities better for those involved in the future.