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Fostering Panther Pride

Help Deserving Former Foster Care and Homeless Students Get an FIU Education

"...See it with my story, and how far it has gotten me."
- Vanessa Morales

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A Letter From Marcos Neukirchner

President's Council, FIU

Marcos NeukirchnerWhat did you do when you got your college acceptance letter? Did you run to your parents and share the news? Did they share in your excitement and hope?

Now imagine you could do neither. You have no place to call home nor parents to tell. Such is the case for a homeless or former foster child. You can make a difference!

This is where we come in. At FIU, we are their mentor. We become their home. We help them change their narrative and create a future filled with possibilities they once thought unattainable!

We started with one student and then extended our support to many more. There is a need in our community and we have the privilege yet immense responsibility to help these students.

With the financial support of people like you, Fostering Panther Pride (FPP) is now helping over 140 students and we are still counting!

We are reversing the cycle of despair and hopelessness in these young minds. Join us in making a difference!

FIU’s Fostering Panther Pride program is tailored to help these students overcome the challenges they face.

FPP provides them with support during the transition to their new life... campus life.

We provide them with tuition assistance and assistance in securing basic needs we ourselves often take for granted.

Without this program, these students would often not have a secure place to sleep any given night; most face each day without knowing where their next meal will come from. With this burden and no support, how can we expect them to succeed?

This is why I need your help! Your donation, of any size, will help make a positive difference in the lives of these students.

It will help provide them with a safe place to sleep and not wonder if they will eat. They can focus and thrive in an academic environment and pursue a career. It will give them access to advisors and mentors. These students have overcome so many obstacles growing up; let's help them by giving them all FIU has to offer.

Their success depends on YOUR help. Without it, their chances for building a brighter future are greatly diminished.

I invite you to witness Vanessa Morales’ story. Vanessa will be graduating from FIU in a few months and she is able to do so in great part because of the help and support received from people like you.

This cause is near and dear to my heart and I am asking you to help so we can positively impact the lives of many more deserving young minds in their quest to becoming FIU students like Vanessa and eventually community leaders who also extend their hands to needy students in pursuit of their dreams.

I urge you to donate now. Any amount is welcome. Every dollar counts!

In Panther Spirit,

Marcos Signature
Marcos Neukirchner
President’s Council - FIU


FIU's Fostering Panther Pride (FPP) program offers tailored academic and other support services to undergraduate students identified as former foster youth or homeless.

Launched in 2013, the primary goal of FPP is to assist former foster youth and homeless students in their transition to FIU, their retention and graduation, and their pursuit of securing employment or graduate school upon receiving their Bachelor’s degree.

For the Fall 2016 semester, the program served more than 135 identified Foster Care and/or Homeless students.

Tailored Academic & Support Services

  • Processing DCF or Homeless Waiver.
  • Securing housing on or off-campus.
  • Navigating University policies/procedures pertaining to admissions, financial aid, registration, housing.
  • Referrals to FIU resources (academic advising, tutoring, counseling services, career services, and internships.)
  • Linkages to community partners such as Homeless Helpline, Educate Tomorrow, Handy, etc.


  • Success Coach: to serve as the contact person to provide students with a support system and help them navigate the university’s resources. The Success Coach will be responsible for organizing customized outreach focused on financial aid, study skills, internships and other services that will assist students in graduating with an FIU degree.
  • Mentoring Program: students will be assigned a trained mentor to help guide them through their undergraduate journey.
  • Research: FFP will help FIU faculty identify best practices to assist the population of homeless and foster care youth, producing a replicable model for other communities.

FIU is one of a growing number of universities and colleges in the country working to create a more holistic solution, built around addressing all of a student’s needs, whether academic, physical, emotional or mental. Some have suffered abuse or neglect and bounced from one foster home to another; others have suffered the loss of a parent, landing them in state custody or, if they are 18 or older, on their own.

In any given semester at FIU, there are dozens of students with similar stories – living on the streets, in cars or shelters, or abandoned by those who were supposed to protect and care for them.

Give To The Fund

These donations will benefit Fostering Panther Pride, including scholarships for First Generation students, as needed.

* All donations are tax deductible

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