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Only three out of ten foster kids will get their diploma, this local organization looks to change that

Posted at 7:59 PM, Feb 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-21 21:59:24-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — A little more than a year ago, if you had told Delila Antunez-Calderon that she would actually enjoy learning, she wouldn't believe you.

"It wasn't easy at first, I was trouble," she said. "I had a big fear of asking teachers for help".

Now, the high school graduate and foster kid was able to beat the odds and get her diploma from Sierra High School.

"I'm actually proud of it, and I proved everyone wrong, and I proved my own self wrong because I really doubted myself," said Antunez-Calderon.

According to the Colorado Department of Education, only 30% of foster kids in the state graduate with their high school diploma. A local nonprofit, Kids Crossing, is working to change that.

"If you really think about this, [foster kids] have a greater chance of being homeless, being addicted, being in prison, or being dead," said Director of Education at Connect for Success Linette Wiese.

Weise says the trauma-responsive tutoring center run by Kids Crossing has helped 55 foster kids in the 2 years they've operated. She stressed that the goal of Connect for Success is so much more than just education.

"When kids come in, I just want them to feel that unconditional love, she said.

Educators here say that foster kids are often in a state of 'fight or flight' throughout the school day. When brains are operating like that, they're unable to learn new information.

"Our kids have been through intensive, complex trauma, and we have to meet them right where they're at, love them completely unconditionally, and make them feel so safe they can learn," said Weise.

Now, Antunez-Calderon has fallen in love with learning after her time at the tutoring center: she's in cosmetology school.

"When I'm on the floor, I'm at it!" she said.

Now, she takes the lessons she's learned into her everyday life and wants other foster kids to do the same.

"It helped me get out of that zone and be more comfortable, and it helps me bring that comfortable zone out into the real world," said Antunez-Calderon.

Though Medicaid partially funds the tutoring center,the nonprofit is hosting a fundraiser Thursday night to help foster kids.

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