In 2013 Placer Community Foundation reached out to our donors to fund a pilot program in Placer County. Grants to the nonprofit iFoster would purchase a refurbished laptop loaded with software, a backpack and technical support for each child in formal foster care (i.e. foster homes, group homes, etc.). We understood as many as 300 kids would be impacted by this program and believed this was a unique opportunity for local philanthropy to address a tangible, basic need. The response was overwhelming and swift. Many of you contributed generously to our Fostering Futures Fund, providing every eligible child in our county’s foster care system with a laptop over the course of three years. Today we are thrilled to report your giving is receiving national attention.
iFoster expanded the Laptop Program to Madera and Los Angeles counties and commissioned an independent study by University of Southern California to understand the program’s effectiveness. Data from the three counties was collected, the results of which were highlighted in federal policy level discussions at the White House.
According to iFoster’s founder Serita Cox, results of the Laptop Program are a key component to “mobilize Government, Philanthropy and the Tech Sector to solve the digital divide in foster care.” The organization recently announced they anticipate 10,000 laptops will go to every foster youth in California.
Combined results from iFoster’s three-county study found:
- Youth in foster care lack access to computers. While 90% of youth in the U.S. have a computer at home, only 5% of rural foster youth, and 21% of urban foster youth reported access to a computer
- When provided a computer, 98% of foster youth reported using it on a daily or weekly basis
- Providing access to a computer at home resulted in measurable improvements including:
- Academic Performance; improved grades, reduction in missed days of school and work and increased pursuit of college and employment
- Social Connectedness; improved relationships with biological families, foster families and friends and greater communication with teachers, employers, lawyers and caseworkers
- Life Satisfaction; improved self-esteem, with reduction in depression and suicidal tendencies
We are very excited to share this report. At Placer Community Foundation we work to bring you opportunities that leverage your giving for high-impact results. Pooled gifts to our Fostering Futures Fund have helped provide our county’s foster youth the same opportunity to succeed as other kids in America. Thank you!