In a world where access to higher education often serves as a gateway to broader opportunities, two local women have taken a significant step to ensure that foster care youth are not left behind. Through the establishment of a scholarship at the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation (GRACF) specifically for youth who are currently in the foster care system, have been in the foster care system, or have been adopted from it, these women are providing more than just financial assistance—they are offering hope, stability, and the chance for a brighter future.

Kara Williams and Leah Oslin are dedicated advocates for foster care youth and have combined their passions and resources to create this life-changing scholarship.  Kara and her husband have been fostering youth for two years and have been gaining a deep understanding of the systemic barriers that these youth face and she was driven to find ways to support them.  “Many of us don’t realize the privilege we had growing up with a healthy support system. This is one way we can serve youth in foster care and help them achieve their goals for the future,” states Kara.

This scholarship, Foster Hope Scholarship, aims to alleviate some of the financial burdens associated with pursuing higher education as well as validating students’ efforts and potential, encouraging them to pursue their dreams.  It will be available to Greater Itasca area students, both traditional and nontraditional graduating from Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig, Deer River, Grand Rapids, Bigfork, Hill City, Greenway, Nashwauk-Keewatin, Northern Lights, and Northland Schools.

By investing in the future of foster care youth, Kara and Leah are not only hoping to change individual lives but also set a precedent for how society can support its most vulnerable members. They are raising money for the scholarship by running in Grandma’s Half Marathon on Saturday, June 22, 2024.

You can support Kara and Leah’s Grandma’s Marathon race and the scholarship by donating to Foster Hope Scholarship through the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation website at; Donate; Foster Hope Scholarship. You can also send or drop off a check to GRACF at 350 NW 1st Avenue, Suite E, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.