Great Expectations Foster Youth Program

VPCC Student

Great Expectations helps Virginia’s foster youth complete high school, gain access to a community college education and transition successfully from the foster care system to living independently.

Great Expectations was created in 2008 as a partnership between Virginia’s community colleges and philanthropists supporting the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education. Great Expectation’s mission is to help young people leaving foster care in Virginia receive the higher education they need to succeed in life. Virginia’s community colleges offer them a feasible path to a four-year degree, a wide range of general and technical two-year degrees, or other workforce credentials that give them skills valued by employers. Not surprisingly, 70 percent of foster youth who access higher education do so through community colleges.

Great Expectations coaches reach out to foster youth and alumni in high school, helping them consider their career options and what community colleges have to offer. Together they explore the young person’s skills, values, and interests, and match them to higher education options. They help with college applications and assist young people through the financial aid maze. Once a student has enrolled, coaches provide intensive, “hightouch” support to ensure these students’ success. This active support includes regular check-ins, curriculum advising, mentoring, tutoring, direct financial assistance in the case of emergencies, incentives for success, and peer connections through group activities.

In its first year, Great Expectations operated at five of Virginia’s 23 community colleges. Today that number is 18, and counting. Great Expectations has served more than 1,200 youth since it began. Early results show great promise. Great Expectations is helping foster youth succeed. Great Expectations students are staying in school. College retention rates are almost twice those of foster youth nationally. Great Expectations students are graduating in stronger numbers every year. They are transferring to universities, including Ivy League institutions; beginning careers; and even supporting families of their own.

Key components

  • Individualized tutoring
  • Help applying for college admission and financial aid
  • Career exploration and coaching
  • Help applying for and keeping a job
  • Life skills training, including managing finances
  • Personalized counseling
  • Student mentors

The Campus Coaches also focus on ways to help these at-risk youth overcome well-documented barriers to their life success, including housing, transportation and medical and child care issues.


To help Virginia’s foster youth complete high school, gain access to a community college education and transition successfully to living independently.


That all foster youth in Virginia obtain a postsecondary education and be successful and in both education and employment pursuits.


Have Great Expectations available and easily accessible for all of Virginia’s foster youth.

Get Started

Great Expectations Referral Form  Great Expectations Student Application

Contact Us

For more information or to make a referral, please contact:

Sonja B. Vega, M.A.
Great Expectations Coach
222 Griffin Hall
99 Thomas Nelson Drive
Hampton, VA 23666