Lessons from the Field: Striving for Transformative Change at the Stuart Foundation

The Stuart Foundation’s Child Welfare Program provides a compelling example of what can be accomplished by a foundation that has clear goals, coherent, well-implemented strategies, and relevant performance indicators. This case study describes how Stuart implements its strategy to achieve its goal to improve life outcomes for foster youth.

At age 24 Lyssa Trujillo knows all too well what it is like to live amid uncertainty. At 18 she “aged out” of the foster care system and found herself living on her own.

During the first five months, she moved three times. Struggling to pay bills, at one point she balanced two part-time jobs with college classes. “That was really, really stressful,” she says. “From 18 to 21, life was really tough.”

But all of that changed when she established a lifelong connection with an aunt and uncle.

These days Lyssa not only has confidence that she will have a roof over her head, she has people she can turn to for the kind of guidance most young adults need. “I feel so light. I love my life,” she says. “I am able to focus on future dreams. Before, I was living from semester to semester, unable to plan ahead. Now I’m in this safe place where I can try to figure out where I want to go and who I want to be in life.”

A decade ago, establishing permanent connections for older foster youth like Trujillo was not a priority. The work of many, and the leadership of the Stuart Foundation, has helped to change that.

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