For the past four years, Susan Grundberg has worked to help foster youth find permanent families and parents while leading the non-profit organization You Gotta Believe (YGB).
“When I began, it was a daunting prospect to take the helm … but together with our partners, we have accomplished so much,” wrote Grundberg in a newsletter.
Based in New York City, YGB looks to reduce the numbers of foster youth aging out of the system without the stability of a family. According to YGB’s website, of the 25,000 foster youth who age out of the system each year, half will experience homelessness due to a lack of parental guidance and support. For the past 14 years, YGB has utilized a “youth-centric model” to place more than 450 foster youth with permanent families. By individually working with children and ensuring that each parent is properly trained and prepared, this model puts the needs of the youth first.
While directing YGB, Grundberg brought the organization national attention. She helped amplify youth voices in YGB’s advocacy work with Nobody Ages Out, a New York statewide initiative with the goal of placing youth with families before they reach the age of 21.
A year ago, Grundberg tactfully weathered a financial crisis when New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) cut YGB’s $700,000 per year contractual grants. For 13 years, these contracts were YGB’s main avenue for funding. In response, Grundberg looked to reform YGB’s funding structure by involving crowd funding and the private sector, thereby extending the organization’s overall influence and capacity.
Although she is parting from YGB, Grundberg plans to continue supporting these youth populations as she moves on “to work on systemic child welfare and permanency issues,” according to the newsletter.
Throughout this transition, Mary Keane, a senior leader at YGB, will be serving as the interim executive director. At a local and national level, Keane has been instrumental in addressing the needs of older foster youth and advocating for LGBT youth and families.
Moving forward, YGB will continue working toward its vision: the “day when no child is asked to face adulthood alone, when every child aging out of foster care is connected to an unconditionally committed, loving permanent family.”