This month, FosterMore is pleased to highlight Bob Carr’s story, whose work is creating a positive and lasting impact within the foster care community.
Bob Carr is the founder and leader of Give Something Back, a college scholarship and careers program that serves young people who have experienced foster care, as well as those who have faced economic hardship, homelessness, or the incarceration of a parent. The program gives students the mentorship they need to make sure they stay on track with schoolwork and allows them to build an action plan and roadmap for their future. The mentoring continues throughout high school, helping them to maintain a ‘B’ average and build a brighter future.
“As a child growing up south of Chicago, I experienced family hardship. When I was awarded a $250 college scholarship as a high school senior in 1963, I vowed that I would someday help other young people if I could. After decades of struggle in business, I achieved success beyond my dreams. Give Back is a way to change lives and repay the kindness shown to me,” says Bob Carr. Since the program’s inception in 2003, Bob has personally donated the vast majority of program funds, a sum that exceeds $50 million. This has led to the financing of 1,500 college scholarships and achieved a college graduation rate of 90 percent for their students.
One of Bob’s most inspiring moments from his work in the community happened at a high school in Burlington, N.J., where he was invited to give the commencement speech for the graduating seniors. Bob met with a dozen students, who had experienced severe adversities, to talk about their lives and hopes. He gave them each a copy of his memoir, ‘Through the Fires,’ a book that touches on some of the difficulties in his childhood and later life, as well as his later business success and the creation of Give Something Back. A few weeks after the speech, a student reached out to Bob and explained that he had no place to stay or sleep. Bob made the necessary arrangements to get the student help. When he was picked up, he held only a laundry basket that contained all of his earthly possessions, on top of which was the copy of Bob’s book. The organization helped the student obtain employment and enrolment at Rowan University, where he would win election as the student representative on the college’s Board of Trustees. Since then, he has graduated from Rowan and now heads his nonprofit organization designed to help African American boys focus on education and robust careers.
“Children from the foster care system are among the most likely to experience homelessness, abuse, and emotional tumult. They are among the least likely to attend or graduate from a four-year college or other post-secondary education, such as a community college, trade school, or apprenticeship when compared with students who come from privileged and stable homes,” says Bob. If you’re interested in getting involved in the foster care community, here’s how he recommends you can make the biggest impact:
“Those in a position to do so can provide safe and loving homes to children who might have been repeatedly moved around, whether in group facilities or with families. People can volunteer as mentors for foster youths. These mentors are vital to the success of Give Back and many other organizations. General awareness of the life of foster youths can help cultivate a culture where these young people know they are accepted and included. Finally, society must recognize that young people need help and guidance even after ‘aging out’ of the foster care system.”
Thank you for your ongoing good influence in the community, Bob Carr. We hope your story inspires others to get involved and make a difference.