When Reid and Serita Cox started iFoster about seven years ago, they wanted to provide resources and support for the foster care community.
That original vision and purpose is now being recognized by AARP’s Purpose Prize, an award given to “extraordinary individuals who use their life experience to make a better future for all,” according to AARP’s website.
Now in the older-than-50 category, Reid, iFoster’s CFO, is among five Purpose Prize honorees this year who will each receive $50,000 to help broaden their work. In addition, Cox will be featured in an upcoming issue of AARP’s magazine and is being honored at an AARP gala in November.
“We’ve always been very foster care community focused,” Reid said. “It’s an opportunity to engage a much larger community to support children, youth and caregivers.”
Today more than 7.8 million children younger than 18 live in households headed by grandparents or other relatives, according to AARP’s GrandFacts fact sheets. Among those, 2.6 million grandparents are directly responsible for raising their grandchildren. Reid said that AARP’s members are directly tied to the community that iFoster serves.
“One of our great hopes is to access a much larger segment of the population,” Reid said. “It’s an opportunity to shine a light on the needs of children and youth in foster care and to reinforce that young people in foster care just need a small investment in resources and opportunities to reach their potential and become successful, independent adults.”
Currently, iFoster has more than 40,000 members and provides a variety of discounted services to foster parents as well as current and former foster youth. With the added attention to the nonprofit organization’s work, iFoster is rolling out a new website for the general public today as well.
“The updated website will welcome a much broader audience – providing information and opportunities for the general public to support our children in foster care, showing them three simple ways they can get involved in helping ensure our children have what they need to achieve their full potential,” Serita said. “We hope this is a springboard to launch the expansion of our community to encompass more of the general public who can get involved to help our young people.”
Those three ways to get involved include contributing funds, helping transitional age youth prepare for jobs and volunteering with an iFoster partner agency.
Fellow foster care community member Judy Cockerton received the Purpose Prize award in 2012 when it was part of Encore.org. Cockerton is founder and director of the Treehouse Foundation, which is an intergenerational community for families fostering and adopting children.