Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Celebration of Excellence" Honors Foster Youth Scholars

Graduating from high school and enrolling in college are milestones that most foster care youth don’t reach. Studies show that youth living in foster care are less likely to finish high school and more likely to end up homeless or in jail. Fewer than 3 percent of them earn college degrees.

Yet more than 300 Georgia foster care youth who beat the odds will be honored during the 17th Annual “Celebration of Excellence.” In addition, nearly 30 Georgia foster care youth will be awarded more than $75,000 in scholarships for their academic achievements.

Foster youth who have overcome obstacles to attain scholastic success will be recognized for their recent graduation from high school, vocational school, GED program or college during “Celebration of Excellence” on Wednesday, June 10. The “Celebration” will take place at the Rialto Theater for the Arts at Georgia State University at 6:30 p.m. This year’s event will feature live performances by Moving in The Spirit Youth Dance Ensemble, The Still Waters Youth Sinfo-Nia Orchestra, Innocence (Nno), Young Hip Hop Artist and others. There will also be a Definition of Excellence Photo Exhibit, which will highlight the social and professional achievements of current and former foster youth, and a video presentation of local and national celebrities congratulating these youth.

“Celebration of Excellence” is a statewide, annual event that honors young people in the foster care system who have made strides in their academic endeavors. This year, more than 300 students from across the state will be lauded for their success. The event is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) and numerous community organizations and private businesses.

The “Celebration of Excellence” is the high point of a three-day Atlanta visit for youth transitioning out of the foster care system. These youth will also attend the Higher Education Institute, a two-day information and resource forum designed to teach the importance of professional etiquette, money management and understanding legal rights.

The “Celebration of Excellence” is organized by a coalition of public and private community partners across Georgia. The event is free, open to the public and is attended by professional athletes, celebrities, foster parents, child welfare workers, business leaders, child and legal advocates, and legislators throughout the state. For more information, please visit www.celebrationofexcellence.org.
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