LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Jan. 20, 2016) – PBS SoCal was awarded a three-year, $1.7 million grant by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to launch a multi-faceted initiative to help change the expectations and realities for foster youth in Southern California. PBS SoCal will collaborate with the region’s foster care community – which supports one of the largest foster youth populations in the country – to spotlight the real life challenges these children face, with the goals of starting a dialogue and helping find creative solutions.
“Core to our mission is using the power of public media to help the community solve its most challenging problems. The idea to create this movement, and to give voice to our community’s foster youth and their caretakers, was borne out of many conversations with our community partners,” said Andy Russell, President and CEO of PBS SoCal. “We set out to find a partner, and are grateful to have found such an exceptional one in the Hilton Foundation – which is deeply committed to finding new ways to give hope and inspiration to the foster youth in our community.”
A study by the Hilton Foundation discovered that in the first four years after leaving the system, one in three foster youth receive food stamps, less than half report any earnings, and only about 25 percent have consistent employment. That is due in large part to the fact that many foster youth are abandoned a second time when they age out of the foster care system equipped with few personal, educational or vocational resources they need to succeed in the next step of their lives.
These issues build throughout a foster youth’s life. According to the Alliance for Children’s Rights, by the third grade four in five foster children have had to repeat a grade. By grade 11, only one in five foster youth in Los Angeles County is proficient in English, one in twenty is proficient in math, and three in four are performing below grade level. Fewer than half of foster children graduate from high school, and only three percent graduate from college. As a result, foster children face tremendous challenges in life, in school, in career planning, and in creating a prosperous future.
“This partnership with PBS SoCal is a valuable opportunity for filmmakers and foster youth to tell their stories to the community,” said Peter Laugharn, President and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “We hope that viewers will gain a better understanding of the experiences of foster youth and those who care for them—not only their challenges, but also their resiliency and opportunity for success.”
The Southern California foster youth program will convene stakeholders, schools, agencies and community leaders dedicated to the local foster care population with the goal of – together – finding creative new ways to help foster youth. The foster youth initiative will work to engage and encourage the caregiver role in foster care; raise awareness in the larger Southern California community of the issues and needs of this vulnerable population of children; and reveal and reinforce the valuable contributions and accomplishments of organizations working with foster youth in this region. The initiative will also include community engagement focused on transition age youth with the objective of helping them fulfill their potential as self-sufficient adults and members of the community.
Tapping its expertise in television and digital mass media, PBS SoCal will produce high-quality editorially-sound documentaries and other public service content on the issues facing the foster care system – which will be shared with a massive audience on-air and online. And through screenings, panel discussions and social media campaigns, the foster youth initiative will ignite conversations on the subject, with the goal of engaging the community to find creative solutions.
About PBS SoCal KOCE
PBS SoCal KOCE is the home to PBS for Greater Los Angeles and Southern California, dedicated to fostering a love of learning, culture and community using the power of public media. We deliver the full schedule of high-quality PBS programs, plus content that is for, about and by the people of Southern California. We make our content available for free through three broadcast channels– PBS SoCal/KOCE-HD, PBS SoCal Plus and PBS SoCal World. It is also available anytime, anywhere at pbssocal.org, on our mobile apps, and via connected TV services. And we reach deep into the community through partnerships, events and grassroots outreach, providing early education resources and access to a broad array of arts and culture experiences. PBS SoCal has offices in Century City, Costa Mesa, and Los Angeles. Learn more at pbssocal.org and follow PBS SoCal on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
About the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation currently conducts strategic initiatives in six priority areas: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance use, helping children affected by HIV and AIDS, supporting transition-age youth in foster care, and extending Conrad Hilton’s support for the work of Catholic Sisters. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. In 2015, the Humanitarian Prize was awarded to Landesa, a Seattle-based land rights organization. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.4 billion in grants, distributing $107 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2015. The Foundation’s current assets are approximately $2.5 billion. For more information, please visit www.hiltonfoundation.org.