Seita Scholars Program

About This Program

Target Population: Youth aging out of foster care; foster and former foster youth in college 18-25 years old

For children/adolescents ages: 18 – 25

Program Overview

The Seita Scholars Program is a campus-based support program for undergraduate students who experienced foster care and are attending Western Michigan University. Students receive support from coaches to successfully navigate seven life domains:

  • Academics
  • Finances and employment
  • Housing
  • Physical and mental health care
  • Social relationships and community connections
  • Cultural and personal identity
  • Life skills

Students have access to 24-hour on-call support and emergency financial resources. The program includes a scholarship at the university and students are required to live on campus.

Program Goals

The overall goals of the Seita Scholars Program are:

  • Increase opportunities for foster youth to pursue higher education and to provide supports that promote success throughout their undergraduate experience at Western Michigan University (WMU) while increasing foster youth earning college degrees
  • Create transitions that lead to success in college and career for WMU students from foster care ages 18-25
  • Develop community of scholars among WMU students who have aged out of foster care (Create safe community to deconstruct and reconstruct identity)
  • Educate WMU students from foster care and their support network to enhance professional skill set
  • Transform WMU Students from foster care by integrating experiences of one's past to build opportunities for the future
  • Promote academic success toward college graduation that leads to professional employment upon graduation, while maintaining personal well-being, developing career aspirations, and building leadership capabilities

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Seita Scholars Program.

Essential Components

The essential components of the Seita Scholars Program include:

  • Clinically trained Master's-level Campus Coaches
  • State foster care worker "Coaches" on-site at campus office
  • Emergency funds for students
  • Scholarship (financial aid packaging with minimal student loans)
  • Career mentoring and employment readiness training
  • Academic supports to fill learning gaps
  • Safe housing during semester breaks
  • Guidance to help students manage and be proactive with physical, mental, and dental health needs
  • Organized social events with other students from foster care such as welcome events with the students from all academic years
  • Peer leadership and public speaking development
  • Support as students navigate biological family relationships
  • Field trips to give students exposure to career and advanced educational opportunities
  • Guidance to explore personal identity development in the young adult years
  • Targeted life skills training
  • First Year Seminar Course (i.e., University 101) taught in groups of up to 28 students
  • Peer support groups of 3-7 students

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Seita Scholars Program directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Youth aging out of foster care and former foster youth in college
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: The program aims to build and strengthen social and career support networks that students are exposed to on a college campus; students also receive help to heal relationships with biological family.

Recommended Intensity:

Student contact with campus coaches varies according to student need. On average, students interact with their Coaches about 3 hours per month. Interactions include face-to-face, texting, telephone and e-mail contact. Typical contact is high frequency with short duration (e.g., 7 contacts per month, ranging from 5 to 60 minutes).

Recommended Duration:

Students remain in the program until they have graduated (up to about 6 years) or stopped attending the university.


Seita Scholars Program includes a homework component:

Students are expected to follow through with recommendations made by campus coaches, which often include referrals to other campus and community organizations, as well as completing basic life skill assignments, such as budgeting, scheduling, and follow-through.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

  • Office space on a university campus
  • One full-time campus coach per 30 students from foster care
  • Office assistant
  • Program Director
  • A full-time state foster care worker located on campus in the program office
  • Student emergency fund
  • Cell phones for program staff
  • Collaborative partnership relationships with university departments and community organizations

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

  • Minimum Bachelor's degree for state foster care workers
  • Minimum Master's degree with clinical training and foster care experience for campus coaches

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contacts:
Training Type/Location:

In-person and via web-based training

Number of days/hours:

Range from ½ day to 3 days

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

The following studies were not included in rating Seita Scholars Program on the Scientific Rating Scale...

Unrau, Y. A., Dawson, A. W., Anthony, J. C., Toutant, T. M., & Hamilton, R. D. (2020). An exploration of life outcomes for college graduates with foster care histories by race: Preliminary results from a campus-based program. Children and Youth Services Review, 116, Article 105108.

The purpose of the study was to provide a preliminary look at baccalaureate-level college graduates who participated in one campus-based program designed to support students who lived some part of their adolescent years in state foster care and are located in a predominantly White institution. Participants were assigned to an on campus-based program [now called Seita Scholars Program]. Measures utilized include study developed surveys. Results indicate that there was a preliminary portrait formed of college graduates with foster care histories who received support from a campus-based program in areas of employment, housing, finances, health, relationships, and life skills. Racial identity was associated with some outcomes, indicating that graduates in the racial minority grouping reported lesser outcomes in some instances compared to their White peers. Limitations include the use of self-reported data, low response rate, lack of specificity on the study-developed surveys, lack of a control group, and concerns about lack of generalizability due to survey respondents being disproportionately White, arrived as freshman to the university, and younger compared to all graduates. Note: This article was not used in the rating process due to the lack of a control group.

Additional References

Unrau, Y. A. (2010). From foster care to college: The Seita Scholars Program at Western Michigan University. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 20(2), 17–20.

Unrau, Y. A., Font, S. A., & Rawls, G. (2012). Readiness for college engagement among students who have aged out of foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(1), 76–83.

Unrau, Y. A., Hamilton, R., & Putney, K. (2010). The challenge of retaining college students who grew up in foster care. Retention Success, April, 1-5.

Contact Information

Ronicka Hamilton, MA, ACC
Title: Director, Seita Scholars Program
Agency/Affiliation: Western Michigan University
Phone: (269) 387-8346
Fax: (269) 387-8360

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: February 2024

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: August 2022

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: April 2012