Letter: Help youth in foster care

When young people age out of Michigan’s foster care system, they face significant challenges in finding a way to attend and complete college. Only 2 percent of former foster youth nationally overcome the barriers and earn a college degree, according to the Foster Care Alumni of America.

That’s why my wife, Amy, and I have devoted ourselves to helping these young people who lack the family support that so many of us take for granted. We want them to have an opportunity to pursue higher education and realize their dreams. We created the Blavin Scholars program at the University of Michigan for this purpose.

As a movie producer, I’ve recently had the privilege of being involved in a project that involves someone who has become internationally known for what he does to help children in Kenya who are in a similar situation as children in foster care.

The documentary is called “Mully: Changing the World One Child at a Time.” It tells the story of Charles Mully, an orphan from Kenya who grows up to be a wealthy businessman and then risks it all to provide the world’s largest family for orphans in Kenya. The “Mully” documentary is a perfect tie-in to our efforts in Michigan to provide scholarships for students who experienced foster care — as well as the need for loving foster and adoptive homes for children who in the foster care system.

I was thrilled to attend last week’s Fostering Futures Scholarship fundraiser at Henry Ford Museum with Charles Mully as my special guest. The “Mully” documentary will be showing in 80 Michigan theaters on Oct. 3, 4 and 5. I expect moviegoers to be inspired after watching what Charles Mully has done for orphans in Kenya. I would like to provide them with a “call-for-action,” since it’s natural after seeing such an inspirational movie to want to do something to help.

So here’s what we’re doing, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the state’s foster care system.

After each showing of “Mully,” attendees at many theaters can help children in foster care in Michigan. Representatives in the theater can provide information about how to financially support Michigan’s Fostering Futures Scholarship program that helps young people who were in foster care pay for college. Representatives also can provide information on how to become a licensed foster parent or adopt from foster care.

Scholarship funding for foster youth is a deserving cause and in need of private support. Foster care gets little attention from philanthropists. That’s a mistake because youth aging out of foster care really need our support.

Find information on showings at your local movie theater at www.mullymovie.com. If you can’t attend one of the showings or there is not a representative present at your theater and you would like to help children who experience foster care, go to www.michigan.gov/hopeforahome.

Paul Blavin

founder, Blavin Scholars program

University of Michigan