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New OSI Baltimore Community Fellows Joins the PJC

Shantel Randolph joined the PJC family in November 2007. Shantel has been awarded a 15 month OSI-Baltimore Community Fellowship to work at the PJC on Foster Youth, Incorporated (FYI).Below is her profile and project description on the OSI website. Shantel Randolph Baltimore, Maryland 2007 As her mother struggled with addiction, Shantel Randolph was shuttled in and out of foster care. She bounced between living with her aunt and her mother until finally, at age 17, she went into an independent living facility in Baltimore. There, she lived in an apartment with other older foster youth until she turned 21 and "aged out" of the child welfare system. Young people who age out of foster care often suffer poor outcomes. Many end up homeless, in trouble with the law or unable to support themselves. Randolph lost her health insurance and then had to scrape together $1,000 for a dental emergency, nearly ruining her. At times, she couldn’t pay her bills and almost got evicted. "I had to choose between working and going to school," she says. She dropped out of Baltimore City Community College, a decision that still haunts her. Today, at age 25, Randolph is on track. Married for more than two years, she is the mother of a toddler son and works as Baltimore County clerk. Now, she plans to use her fellowship to help other young people in foster care successfully move to adulthood. For the past year, Randolph has been working with a group of 15 to 18 students at the Baltimore Freedom Academy who are either in foster care or aging out of care. They participate in her program called "Foster Youth Incorporated" or FYI, and she plans to expand it to at least four other high schools. The aim is to empower foster youth to tell their stories and advocate for improvements to Maryland’s foster care system. "By creating a safe place for our foster youth to express themselves, they can creatively strive toward maintaining a stable, balanced life after high school," she says.

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