What is the Irreducible Grace Foundation?
Irreducible Grace Foundation works with youth, especially youth of color and youth who are aging out of foster care or state guardianship, to become highly successful adults. We assist youth to develop or repair emotional trust in adults, while planning and achieving their college, career, and life goals.
Our organization started in 2012 by a group of Saint Paul Public Schools educators, led by Dr. Darlene Fry, who saw the large racial disparities of on-time graduation rates between African American, American Indian, and Hispanic students to their Caucasian and Asian counterparts. In looking deeper into this "off-track"-titled population, nearly 90% of them had been in out-of-home placement during their school career. (Out-of-home placement covers foster care, homelessness, juvenile detention, and chemical rehabilitation).
In conducting listening sessions with youth from these populations we learned that many began their out-of-home placements in foster care. For many, this created an unfortunate pathway into juvenile detention, chemical rehabilitation or being homeless.
As a foster-to-adopt parent, Dr. Fry knew the barriers facing this group of young people. Affecting positive change with these students would extend far beyond her grasp within the school district. In 2013 she left Saint Paul Schools to devote her full attention to IGF. Since 2012 we have worked consistently with 15 youth who were in chronic need of support and 25 others who came to work with our Fostering Voice performances and workshops.
Our young people are now poised and eager to take on leadership roles. They want to develop more outlets to help young people who are experiencing similar life struggles. In their own words, "We want to be the help we never got."
Why "Irreducible Grace"?
The organizational name comes from the inspiration shared by a little girl who, during her first two and a half years of life, experienced severe neglect that led to her being placed in foster care. In spite of this, she came out of that system possessing an ability to love beyond her small frame.
Each member of our founding board was touched by the love this child expressed, even though so many adults had failed her previously. Being nonverbal, she had a slight smile that radiated a love that couldn't be reduced (Irreducible) by the world around her. In her loving us, we all received the "unmerited favor" (Grace) in assisting her to live a new life.
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Irreducible Grace Foundation is committed to empowering youth of color, especially those from foster care systems in fostering community, voice and begin the journey of healing from trauma.