TasselTurn is an edtech nonprofit providing foster-involved and housing insecure youth with custom plans to graduate from high school and attend college. Their virtual platform aims to fill in gaps for foster-involved youth, with a particular focus on long-term planning, cognitive and non-cognitive skills-building, and social-emotional support – areas not typically addressed through standard foster case management.
Chicago Beyond’s investment in TasselTurn is its first in nonprofit tech, and signals the importance of investing in organizations with deep proximity to human experiences and in products that are designed by, for, and with the communities most impacted by them.
In 2018, one-third of all children entering foster care were young people of color, with 23 percent identifying as Black – almost twice the percentage of Black children in the total US population, according to data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Today, there are nearly 440,000 children in the foster care system nationwide, a disproportionate number of whom are children of color.
TasselTurn works by building the ecosystems of support each young person needs. Here’s how educational institutions, policy makers, foster care parents and funders can help:
• High school counselors: Help connect foster-involved young people and their families with TasselTurn;
• College admissions counselors: Connect with housing insecure and foster-involved youth who have college aspirations, early in the journey;
• Elected officials and policymakers: Recognize the potential in foster-involved youth and make it easier for case workers to sign up young people;
• Foster care parents: Get support, tools and answers to your most pressing questions through the new TasselTurn parent portal; and
• Individuals and Institutional Funders: Invest in TasselTurn.
Meet Shanté Elliott
Shanté Elliott, whose story intersects with foster care, was inspired on her journey to healing and launched TasselTurn to support other youth in care to realize their potential. TasselTurn started as an in-person educational support program for foster-involved youth in grades 9-12 at Curie High School on Chicago’s Southside. But, TasselTurn learned that due to the instability of the foster care system, young people’s housing and school locations could change, requiring them to leave the network of support. To address these issues, TasselTurn changed its approach so students could access the program and connect with a trusted adult wherever students were by launching an online version of their platform.
Since its founding, TasselTurn has expanded from meeting with 10 young people weekly in a school cafeteria to having 27 students in their first online cohort to supporting 245 users enrolled over the past two years. Today, TasselTurn works with youth in three states – Illinois, North Carolina, and Michigan. 163 students are located in Illinois.