Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith announced that his Alex Smith Foundation is partnering with Cornerstones of Care to support foster youth in pursuit of higher education at a graduation celebration for foster children last Thursday at Arrowhead Stadium. "I think to start, this program was here and running and there are just so many mutual values that we have together," Smith explained after speaking to the children in attendance at the ceremony. "My family's home now and wanted to be a part of it and wanted to do something and this is something that we're very serious about and very passionate about, especially these foster youth that are aging out of the system."
"To be able to provide them some options through school and continuing their education and being able to allow them to go do that—so many of them just don't have that opportunity.
"If I can raise awareness and shed some light on some things that go wrong around the country and Kansas City, that's even better."
Denise Cross, the president and CEO of Cornerstones of Care, commented on the impact Smith's visit and partnership can have.
"I think it will be huge for us," she said. "The experience that he's had in San Diego with his program and the visibility of the needs that our youth have—we really think that together, we can make a difference for our kids."
The graduation ceremony celebrated the success of 20 children who were receiving a variety of degrees, including high school diplomas and program certificates.
Smith described that the origins of his desire to help began when he was in his 20s.
"I remember meeting some kids that were graduating or emancipating as it's called—they were leaving the system," he said. They were turning 18 and all government assistance ends for the most part. I just remember being a couple years removed and how crazy that was and how crazy that seemed."
The stat Smith continually reiterated was the fact that around the country, less than one percent of foster children graduate college, and he believes this will help.
The family of agencies under the Cornerstones of Care umbrella include Gillis, Ozanam, Spofford, Marillac and Healthy Families Programs.