Webinar: How to Help Homeless Students and Youth in Foster Care Succeed in Education After High School


Each year, approximately 1.5 million children and youth experience homelessness, and 400,000 youth are placed in foster care. This webinar provided a national overview of the academic and support needs of this student population, particularly in planning for, applying to, selecting, and successfully transitioning into education after high school. Presenters  highlighted the promising support practices underway by NAEHCY, GEAR UP and other national and state programs. Topics covered included:

  • Statistics on homelessness and students in foster care
  • McKinney-Vento Act
  • How do students become homeless?
  • Why are so many students in foster care?
  • Impact of homelessness and foster care on student academic achievement
  • How school counselors and college access advisors can help homeless and youth in foster care apply to education after high school
  • How to help homeless and youth in foster care select the right postsecondary institution for the necessary types of support
  • Specific college scholarships for homeless and youth in foster care
  • National resources for homeless students and students in foster care

Corinne Nilsen has been the director for the state-wide GEAR UP grant since January 2004. Prior to that, she served as the TRIO director for disability support services and as assistant director for student support services at Wichita State University. As a strong advocate for education, Nilsent has volunteered on numerous committees and boards that support learning, at-risk children, foster care and college access. For the past 21 years, she has written grants, managed grants, received funding or in-kind donations of over 66 million dollars. Corinne has a master of education in counseling from Boston University and a bachelor of science from Southern Illinois University.


Cyekeia Lee is the director of higher education initiatives with the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY). She works with K-12 staff, service providers and higher education professionals to streamline higher education access for homeless youth. Prior to joining NAECHY in 2012, she worked at Wayne State University as a financial aid administrator. One of her primary goals was to provide financial aid assistance to homeless and foster youth. Lee also previously worked as a life skills coordinator at Ozone House, a community-based organization that assists runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth. She is dedicated to providing access to higher education for underserved students. She received a bachelor’s in communication from Eastern Michigan University and a master’s in counseling from Wayne State University.


Ginny Donohue, founded On Point for College in April 1999 after 8 years of helping students from a local homeless shelter to enroll in college.  She launched the program out of the trunk of her car.  Ginny Donohue has received awards, such as the Syracuse University’s Martin Luther King “Unsung Hero Award,” the 2004 Post and Standard Achievement Award, 2008 NCAN Excellence in Leadership Award, 2010 and 2014 Purpose Prize Fellow, Ben and Jerry’s “Citizen Cool” Award and Traditional Home’s “Classic Woman Award.”  Since 1999, On Point for College has enrolled over 4,600 students in 216 colleges and universities.  In 2012, On Point for College replicated its program in New York City and Utica, New York.  Prior to founding On Point for College, Donohue spent over 14 years in the private sector where she gained corporate experience, beginning as a general accountant and ending as chief financial officer for WYNIT.  She also held leadership positions at Black Clawson, Harland Simon and PPC.