We envision a world where youths who have experienced foster care have the same career opportunities and income potential as their non-foster care peers.
Imagine being taken from your home and sent to live in foster care. Even if it is in your best interest, being removed from your home and family is life-altering. National statistics show the long-term impact that foster care has on children. Foster youths are 11 times more likely to experience homelessness and six times more likely to spend time in prison. And only 3% graduate from college. Losing your family should not equate to losing out on a productive future. Yet, this seems to be the case with foster youths.
We believe that providing foster youths a path to higher education, be it college or trade school, will give them the means to achieve financial stability and personal independence and avoid the circumstances that lead people to homelessness and prison.
But, for foster youths, it’s not only about money. It is about opportunity equality—a real chance to lead a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. And an equal opportunity to achieve their American Dream.
Only 8% enter foster care because of their behavior. The rest suffer the consequences of others' bad decisions.
Base salary increases with educational attainment.
Unemployment rates decline with higher levels of education.
Net Worth climbs as people go up the educational ladder.
The above information is from the US Census Bureau reports reflecting data from 2019
In the summer of 2012, John Iras was helping Ellen Lysik install a French drain in her yard. They knew each other from their involvement with Big Families of Michigan, a charity that supports foster youths under 18 years of age.
As they worked, they talked about the lifelong struggles faced by foster kids. They knew programs to support them once they turned 18 were almost nonexistent.
By the time the drain was complete, John and Ellen committed to taking action. They would provide foster youths with a path to higher education. Bravo Programs of America was born.
Incorporated in 2013, we were awarded 501(c)(3) Charity status in 2014.
Our mission is to provide foster youths with a path to higher education. We award scholarships to deserving foster youths, ages 18 through 26, who have been accepted into an accredited college or trade school.
We offer support services to ensure our students know we are there for them - we have their back!
In the fall of 2014, after months of organizing, planning, and community outreach, Ellen Lysik used $7,000 of her own money to award seven scholarships to foster youths from southeast Michigan. We haven’t stopped since.
Scholarship awards have gone to students from 15 Michigan counties. We aim to touch all 83 Michigan counties and reach beyond Michigan borders.
We reached the $250k scholarship milestone in 2022 (ten years). We want to hit the $500k plateau in five years (2027).
To reach these goals, we need to grow our funds and our team. Will you help us?
We have a core team of people who are passionate about our cause, dedicated volunteers who support our students and operations, and ad-hoc volunteers who jump in to support activities and events.
We have an extended team of social workers and counselors who collaborate with us to identify qualified students. Business partners support our students with complimentary or reduced-cost services.
John Iras, one of the co-founders of Bravo Programs of America, passed away in June 2020. He was a dear friend. His philanthropy with foster children has left a memorable mark on many.
To honor John, we have established the John Iras Memorial Scholarship. This annual award will go to a foster student who personifies educational excellence.
2021 - Penny Richards
2022 - Brittney Barros
2023 - Yodit Fitsum & Nasrullah Habibullah