On June 12, 2020, Bernie L. Bates Foundation, (BLB), Inc. partnering with Psi Alpha Alpha Chapter (PsiAA) of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. is participating in the Department of Family, Foster Care Program’s Graduation Ceremony for the 2020 High School and College graduates. The event was held on July 10, 2020. Additionally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing recommendation for the State of Virginia, this year’s graduation will be conducted as a car drive by celebration.

Sixteen young people were recognized by the annual Fairfax County Department of Family Services, Foster Care Program during this High School and College Graduation Celebration. This year there are fifteen Fairfax County High School graduates and one College (VCU) graduate!

For the young people being celebrated they were children who were removed from their biological families due to a range of abuse and neglect and moved between foster and group homes, the challenges that stood between them and a diploma were significant. Graduation rates for children raised in foster care are 49.6 percent less than the national average and the statistics on college graduates are even lower. Having a high school diploma significantly increases the range of job opportunities and earning potential. Instead of giving up, these students continued to move forward. In spite of all they have been through, they were able to see it through. Because of their hard work and the support of people both in-and outside their social circle, they were able to graduate.

Director Bradford Caldwell, coordinated with Mr. Chuck Berlin, M.S.W., Independent Living Coordinator, Foster Care and Adoption-Resources and Support Program, so that he could ensure each graduate received our Bernie L. Bates Foundation, Inc. and Psi Alpha Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Certificates of Achievement for their accomplishment and a $25 gift card (totaling $400). This is the fifth year our organizations have collaborated with the Fairfax County Department of Family Services, Foster Care Program.

Schools that had 2020 Foster Care students that graduated:
1. Park View High School.
2. North Stafford High School.
3. Centreville High School.
4. Massaponax High School.
5. Bryant High School.
6. Lake Braddock Secondary School.
7. Mount Vernon High School.
8. T.C. Williams High School.
9. Mount Vernon High School.
10. Independence Nontraditional School.
11. Westfield High School.
12. Rivermont School.
13. Virginia Commonwealth University
14. Bryant High School.
15. West Potomac High School.
16. Foundations Behavioral Health