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The mission of the University of Washington Champions Program is to provide holistic support for youth and alumni of foster care, ensuring academic success and preparation for lifelong achievement after graduation from postsecondary education.


  • Recruit diverse youth of foster care for University of Washington undergraduate programs.
  • Support established educational services for youth in foster care in Washington State.
  • Develop smooth transitions for students to and from the University of Washington.
  • Provide direct support for alumni of foster care, addressing their unique circumstances and background.
  • Build collaborative network of staff and faculty on campus to support the needs of alumni of foster care.
  • Eliminate the stigma of foster care on campus and create an environment educated and aware about the culture of foster care.

Champions News

From Foster Care to Future Graduates

James Harmon entered state care at age 10 and spent the next five years in 22 different foster homes. But today he is a UW graduate who will start the doctoral program in political science this fall. What helped him on that difficult journey? At 16 he met a social worker who became his guardian — a woman he now calls mom — and she made sure he got to college and was always there when he needed advice. But Harmon recognizes that most foster kids don’t have such a person in their lives. That’s why he’s been volunteering for the UW Champions, a program that provides support for youth and alumni of foster care. On Sept. 9 and 10 the champions will hold their Future Champions Invitational, an event where they invite to campus high school juniors and seniors who have been in foster care. Here, the students meet other people like themselves, attend workshops about such things as admissions and financial aid and attend a football game using tickets donated by Intercollegiate Athletics. Click here to read full article >>

Serving Foster Care Youth and Alumni

In June of 2009, Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, the Vice President of Minority Affairs and Vice Provost of Diversity, charged Jennifer Schoen and Maddy Day with the task of developing a program aimed to serve foster care youth and alumni at the University of Washington. Less than one year later, Schoen, Manager of the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity’s Student Outreach and Pre-College Programs, and Day officially launched the UW Champions Program. This on-campus recruitment and retention program focuses on the promotion and success of youth and alumni of foster care in postsecondary education and currently provides one-on-one support, community building activities, and educational advocacy to approximately 30 undergraduate students at UW. Since its inception, the UW Champions Program has quickly gained momentum and support from students and the community. Melissa Raap joined the program as the retention specialist in June of 2010. Click here to read more >>

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