On May 20, we brought together a panel of eight individuals to discuss the University of Michigan’s Blavin Scholars program, which provides students who have experienced time in foster care with comprehensive support in navigating and maximizing their college experience, and higher education experiences for foster-care students in general.

We were fortunate to have perspectives from across the country, with panelists that included: Miriam Connolly,  Interim Director of the Blavin Scholars Program (@myacon); Emily Hurtado-Arboleda, Blavin’s Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator (@Emily_Arboleda); Maddy Day, MSW, Director of Outreach and Training at the Center for Fostering Success at Western Michigan University (@FSMichigan); Kizzy Lopez, Coordinator of Renaissance Scholars and Student Success Initiatives at California State University, Fresno (@kizzyjoneslopez); Coty Dunten, Orientation and Life Resources Coordinator at Kalamazoo Valley Community College (@kvcc); Chris Harris-Wimsatt, Director at the Center for Fostering Success Seita Scholars Program at Western Michigan University (@harris_wimsatt); Lori Tiller, Public Service Faculty at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia (@uga_embark); and Kathy Stewart, Lifeskills Coach for the Reach Program at Washtenaw Community College (@washtenawcc).

Our panelists brought together far-ranging perspectives and insights regarding foster-care students and their experiences. They discussed ways to best help these students, explored the important resources that Blavin Scholars and other students appreciate most, and the best strategies for destigmatizing the “foster care” label.

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As the chat continued, the Twitter world took notice, and individuals from the foster-care community chimed in with their own insights.


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The chat reached an audience of more than 200,000, and gained nearly 5 million impressions over 360 posts.

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If you missed the chat, feel free to check out the full archive here on Storify. Make sure to join us for the next #UMichChat!