Nonprofit Collaboration Helps Foster Youth Succeed In School


Grounded for Life Program Drives Innovation in Education

Sherry Stein, Delores Labat, Jeremiah Pierre, & Omrit Shimoni

Jeremiah, age 16, came into foster care with his two brothers due to parental neglect. He and his siblings have called Children’s Harbor, a family style group home facility, ‘home’ for the past three years. Jeremiah is very shy and struggled fitting in at high school. Feeling like an outsider, Jeremiah’s academic performance suffered and he lacked the motivation to improve his grades.

Over 60% of youth will exit the foster care system without a high school diploma. Knowing that success in school can act as a positive counterbalance to a childhood filled with abuse and neglect, Children’s Harbor teamed up with ChildNet, the lead child welfare agency for Broward & Palm Beach counties, to develop the Grounded for Life Program.

Pembroke Pines Commissioner Iris Siple, Dr. Theo Koupelis & Jeremiah Pierre

Grounded for Life, funded by the AT&T Aspire grant, provides youth like Jeremiah a Graduation Coach who will meet with them individually once a week to help improve their basic skills, provide support and tutoring, encourage school participation, set personal educational goals, develop problem solving skills, and inspire them to become lifelong learners.

With a little motivation and consistent academic monitoring, Jeremiah went from C’s and D’s to finishing his last quarter with 5 A’s. Jeremiah also got a part-time job at McDonald’s and he is extremely proud of himself. While Jeremiah is still uncertain of his career goals, he knows that with the support from the Grounded for Life program, he will be successful in whatever area he pursues. “Jeremiah is smiling more than ever and is very enthusiastic about the upcoming school year,” shared Collene Brown, Children’s Harbor Program Supervisor.

“We are so excited to see the difference that this collaborative program is making for our youth. With the support of caring companies, like AT&T, we will see more youth in foster care celebrating their high school graduation!” Dr. Elizabeth Wynter, Children’s Harbor President & CEO.

“The value of this program, and AT&T’s partnership, cannot be overstated. By providing these youth with a solid educational foundation, they will be prepared to take on any challenge they meet and achieve any goal they set.” Emilio Benitez, President and CEO of ChildNet, Inc.

About Children’s Harbor

Established in 1996, Children’s Harbor is a nationally accredited nonprofit agency with a mission to provide a safe harbor and support to at risk children, youth, and families-keeping brothers and sisters together, strengthening families, and guiding youth towards independence.

On our main campus in Pembroke Pines, Children’s Harbor provides nurturing, family group homes for 24 siblings and 12 pregnant/parenting teens in the foster care system. Children’s Harbor provides therapeutic, academic, and life skills services to improve the lives of children, youth, and families across Broward County. And on the Howard C. Forman Campus, an extraordinary collaboration between Children’s Harbor, benefactors Ashley and Ed Brown and their nonprofit, Selfless Love Foundation, ChildNet, and the City of Pembroke Pines, has created Brown’s Harbor, a supportive housing program for former foster youth, ages 18 – 23. Visit to learn more.

About ChildNet

ChildNet was selected by the Florida Department of Children & Families to serve as the Community-Based Care (CBC) lead agency in both Broward and Palm Beach counties. As such, it is the single private nonprofit entity responsible for administration of the local child welfare system in each county. It fulfills this responsibility by managing comprehensive networks of child welfare service providers and, in Broward, by also serving as the single centralized child welfare case management provider. The agency’s mission is to protect abused, abandoned and neglected children in the communities it serves. Fulfillment of this mission requires constant input and support from community stakeholders and service providers.

For more information about ChildNet, call 561-352-2500 in Palm Beach County or 954-414-6000 in Broward County, or visit and

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