On June 26-27, 2018, our Foster Youth Strategic Initiative grantees and partners convened in New York City to discuss ways to best support transition age youth in foster care. These convenings are valuable opportunities for our partners to collaborate and share learnings to spark the innovation that drives their daily work. Panel topics included ways to transform public understanding of transition age youth from a communications perspective, how to expand educational pathways for youth in foster care, recent federal policy developments, and a summary of findings from our Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning partner, Child Trends.

This convening included a special focus on the positive impact of art on the lives of foster youth, including a musical performance by young people from The Door, a yoga demonstration by Urban Yogis, a clip from Deborah Oppenheimer’s new documentary “Foster” and artwork by former foster youth lining the walls of the Chelsea Piers venue. Both event photographers, from Los Angeles and New York, were also former foster youth who shared the tremendous impact that photography had on them while growing up in the foster care system.

The participation of transition age youth and true celebration of art throughout the convening added a holistic element to the gathering, encouraging attendees to consider the larger mission that drives our work. Bill Pitkin, Director of Domestic Programs at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, shared:

“It’s not just about making change and running programs or changing policies. This is about treating people the way they deserve to be treated.”

Our Foster Youth Strategic Initiative works to achieve healthy and productive lives for transition age foster youth, with special attention to pregnant and parenting youth and crossover youth. Our strategy focuses on strengthening systems and policies for transition age foster youth, advancing innovative programs that support this population, and expanding and sharing knowledge with the field.

As Michelle Francois, Senior Director of Compassionate Systems at the National Center for Youth Law, explained:

“One of the things I think Hilton Foundation has done powerfully is to help the field understand that research, policy and practice are quite interconnected.“