Editor’s note: Treehouse is a Seattle-based nonprofit that works with at-risk children and young adults in the foster care system. Last year they had a Christmas party at our roastery. We’ve enjoyed getting to know them, and we care about their mission. Here’s their story.
Alexandria Cornell, Education Specialist for Treehouse, knows the foster care system better than anyone. She’s lived it.
As a child and young adult, Alexandria moved over a dozen times. Her experiences left her with a resolve to help others who are in a similar state of perpetual change.
“If you’ve been blessed you need to bless,” she says in a matter-of-fact but compassionate way. This quote nicely captures her professional ethos. She helps because the need is there.
Treehouse started its Graduation Success program in the Seattle area in 2012. At the time less than 40 percent of youth in foster care were graduating from high school. Today Treehouse’s extended five-year graduation rate is 89 percent—seven percent higher than all students in Washington State.
If you’ve been blessed you need to bless.
Alexandria works in the Renton School District with a caseload of 25 foster care youths. She’s embedded in the school and helps guide these at-risk students by creating action plans.
Action plans consist of small, achievable scholastic steps—“stairs that lead to big goals,” as Alexandria calls them.
Repeated moving, and the feeling of rootlessness that comes with it can create barriers to academic success for foster kids. The average youth in foster care changes placements three times because of circumstances out of their control, and with each move they lose four to six months of academic progress.
“We want the youth [on our caseloads] to graduate at the same rate as their peers,” says Alexandria. Treehouse employees work to prepare foster kids for 4-year college, 2-year college, or trade school.
Treehouse recently celebrated its thirtieth birthday. They plan to expand statewide over the next five years. Their ultimate goal is to be in every school district in the state so that they can work with every eligible student.
Treehouse is working to give foster kids a childhood and a future by blessing them though employees like Alexandria.
Like what Treehouse is doing? You can find more about volunteer opportunities here.
You can also make a tax-deductible donation to the nonprofit here.