SCIOTO—Pitts Promise for Foster Youth is a new non-profit organization with its sights set on providing scholarships to Scioto County youth in the foster care system.
Annabelle Pitts, founder of Pitts Promise for Foster Youth, says that her own time in the foster care system inspired her to work toward a change for other children. Though she lived with her mother for some of her childhood, Pitts says that the years that followed became chaotic in different ways.
“My mom always had a big drug problem and I thought life with my dad would be so much better,” Pitts explained. “But he ended up being a drug addict as well. I spent a few years there, bounced around from house to house. Nobody could really just full-on take care of me, so the state thought it would be best for me to go into foster care. I got placed in my first foster home when I was 13.”
From there, Pitts continued a long journey back and forth through different foster homes and kinship care, and the different school systems that came with them. Though Pitts says she dearly loves her natural family, the hardships they collectively faced meant that they couldn’t save for Pitts’ personal college fund—something she realized as she began her journey into secondary education.
While she saw that some scholarships were available to students in foster care, Pitts says that strict criteria rendered herself and other students like her ineligible for the funds.
“Last year whenever I was applying for scholarships to go to college, I saw that there were some opportunities for children that spent time in the foster care system,” she said. “So I started applying, got denied [because of] certain stipulations. One of the ones I was really hoping for, I was denied because I was returned to my mother’s custody three months before I turned 18. So I just want to open my scholarship so that there’s not as much [criteria that can] deny [someone].”
Pitts hopes that with less rigorous criteria for the Pitts Promise scholarship fund, that students in foster care will be able to utilize the opportunity more easily.
“I don’t want a lot of things to cut off the resource that I’m able to give. If you’ve spent time in foster care, I just want to hear about it; create a small essay and what you want to do in college and what your future holds for you. That’s why I wanted to open my own scholarship fund—I don’t want to have to deny people just based on their story. Because everyone’s story is different,” Pitts said.
With business sponsors so far including Toro Loco, Rich TV & Home Center, and Cantina Ixtaccihuatl, Pitts is seeking business sponsors and individual donations to the Pitts Promise scholarship fund. She has plans to roll out the first scholarship later next year.
“I’m going to open up the application this fall, and hopefully be able to give out the first scholarship this upcoming spring. Right now I’m also working hard to secure funds from sponsors and donors,” Pitts said.
And though Pitts only just celebrated incorporation of her organization’s non-profit status, she already has big plans for the future.
For the moment, Pitts Promise’s biggest goals are to add to the scholarship fund, and to collect needed materials for children currently in the foster care system in Scioto County. Suitcases, toiletries, and clothes are being sought by Pitts Promise to restore dignity to children moving from place to place.
“That time in foster care that I spent away from my family and learning new experiences and moving house to house, I didn’t have any suitcases or duffle bags to put my stuff in. So when I’d move, I had to use trash bags [for my belongings]. And that’s quite embarrassing. Pitts continued, “That’s why I’d also like to collect suitcases for donations to fill with clothes to donate to Children’s Services, just so those kids have a little bit to start out with. Whenever I went into foster care the first time, I was just wearing what I had on that day, and that’s all I took,” Pitts explained.
And with so much work left to do for vulnerable children in the community, Pitts hopes that the people of Scioto County will rise to meet the goals Pitts Promise is setting out to achieve.
“Overall, I just hope that the community supports us,” she said. “My slogan for the mission of the project is ‘building foundations for the future of our community,’ because the kids that we are raising in school now are the people who are going to be running this city. Somebody has to do it, and if we could just create this path for our children to be able to be good, civilized citizens here in Portsmouth, that’s the main goal: uplift and inspire the children now while they’re young so that they have good intentions to look up to.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the scholarship fund, or to reach out regarding suitcases, toiletries, or clothing donations, visit Pitts Promise for Foster Youth online at: pitts-promise-for-foster-youth.square.site/. The organization can also be found on Facebook PITTS PROMISE FOR FOSTER YOUTH.