Office of Youth Empowerment

  • Youth Smilling

    About Us

    The Office of Youth Empowerment (OYE) is a collaborative effort between the Child Welfare Academy and Facing Foster Care in Alaska! OYE focuses on youth empowerment, advocacy, college enrichment, training, and peer mentoring programs for foster youth throughout Alaska. OYE builds on the existing efforts by CWA that have led to a record number of foster youth enrolled in higher education, and FFCA’s work to promote peer support and fully engage youth in life skills and youth lead activities. 

Post Secondary Education and Training 

The Child Welfare Academy, in partnership with the Office of Children's Services Independent Living Program, offers support to current and former foster youth pursuing post-secondary education and training. Eligible current and former foster youth can apply to receive financial assistance toward their cost of attendance, college preparation, academic coaching, and information to access campus and community supports.

  • Financial Assistance 

    Financial assistance is limited to current and former foster youth who meet specific eligibility criteria. Foster youth can apply to receive the Education and Training Voucher and the University of Alaska Presidential Foster Youth Tuition Waiver. The Education Training Voucher (ETV) Program is a federally-funded, state-administered initiative to provide funding and support for post-secondary education. The state of Alaska has recognized the growing needs of this population and has increased support through various partnerships to meet the educational needs of youth in foster care.

    Eligibility includes youth who are or were in foster care (out-of-home care) with a state or tribal entity on or after their 16th birthday and have not yet reached age 21, and who have completed a high school diploma or GED.

  • Education and Training Voucher (ETV)

    Child welfare academy post-secondary education and training support

    ETV offers financial assistance to eligible current and former foster youth to attend an accredited college, university, vocational or technical college. The maximum ETV award is $5,000. Awards are unique to each student and are based on the cost of attendance formula established by their college of choice. Students can utilize up to $5,000 per academic year (as long as youth are enrolled at least half time). This can cover the following school related expenses or those outlined in the institutions cost of attendance:

    • Tuition
    • Student Fees
    • Books & Supplies
    • Room (On-campus & off-campus housing)
    • Board (Food)
    • Transportation
    • Personal/Miscellaneous
    • Child care

    Once awarded, students must maintain good academic standing and meet their institutions Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy. Students should not expect ETV to cover their entire cost of attendance. ETV funds can be combined with other grants and scholarships to minimize or eliminate the need for student loans.


    Youth who are or were in foster care (out-of-home care) with a state or tribal entity on or after their 16th birthday and have not yet reached age 21.

    • Youth must have completed a high school diploma or GED.
    • Youth must be accepted into a qualifying institution of higher education.
    • Must be attending at least half-time to an accredited school that:
      • Awards a Bachelor’s degree or not less than a 2-year program that provides credit toward a degree.
      • Provides not less than 1-year of training towards gainful employment, or
      • Is a vocational program that provides training for gainful employment and has been in existence for at least two years.
    • Youth must be enrolled in a program prior to their 21st birthday to receive funds until they reach age 23.

    *ETV Applications are due June 1st, for the following fall semester.  

  • Presidential Foster Youth Tuition Waiver (PTW)  

    university of alaska many traditions one alaska

    The University of Alaska offers 15 Presidential Foster Youth Tuition Waivers each year to eligible current and former foster youth. Presidential Foster Youth Tuition Waivers can be used toward the cost of tuition at any University of Alaska campus for up to 144 undergraduate credits within 6 years, not to exceed 10 semesters.

    PTW Eligibility

    • Youth who are or were in foster care (out-of-home care) on or after their 16th birthday and have not yet reached age 21.
    • Be a resident of Alaska, and;
    • Must be accepted into an undergraduate certificate or degree program and enroll in classes by the first fall semester following receipt of the Award or graduation from high school, whichever occurs later;
    • Maintain good standing within the University community (academic, financial, and conduct);
    • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher.

    Students should not expect ETV and/or Presidential Foster Youth Tuition Waiver to cover their entire cost of attendance. Youth applying to post-secondary education should seek additional grants and scholarships, and apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to secure additional funding as needed.

    *PTW Applications are due June 1st for students planning to attend the following fall semester.

  • Post Secondary Education Conference

     UAA Student at UAA Sign

    The annual Post-Secondary Education Conference is held each summer. College-bound foster youth from across Alaska are invited to to stay at the UAA Campus to learn about opportunities in higher education including

    • College Preparation
    • Admissions
    • Financial Aid
    • Campus Life
    • Academic Program
    • Health and Wellness
    • Education and Training Voucher
    • Foster Youth Tuition Waiver
  • How to Apply

    If you, or someone you know would like to apply for the Education and Training Voucher and/or Presidential Foster Youth Tuition Waiver, please contact Marissa Sweet for an application at

Youth directed programming allows young people to become self-advocates, support their peers, educate the community, and fully engage in their own individual goals as well as systems change. At OYE, we believe youth are the experts in their own experiences, and can shape the way our system serves families involved with child welfare throughout the state. 

"I had always wanted to find a way to help others who shared my same fate. By joining this movement supporting youth and children in care, I was finally able to make a difference. I felt like I was part of a greater purpose."
Angel Gonzales-Former Foster Youth 
Student in graduation gown 






Facing Foster Care in Alaska

A youth-driven statewide nonprofit that addresses the complex needs of foster youth throughout Alaska. FFCA consists of youth advocacy and mentoring programs that focus on the effective support, guidance and engagement of Alaska foster youth ages 15-24. FFCA works to ensure that our youth members develop essential skills and competencies in education, employment, housing and financial security, emotional resiliency, decision making, and interpersonal communication. FFCA programs include a Youth Leadership Board, peer support/leadership training, foster care education & advocacy, laptop distribution and youth representation on foster care coalitions.


  • Youth Presenters smiling

    Speakers Bureau

    The Bureau professionally trains foster youth in facilitation, public speaking, leadership skills and training skills and coordinates foster youth presentations for child welfare staff, caregivers, legal parties and the community. Trainings offer expert knowledge of “lived” systems experiences and approaches to improving child welfare at the direct service and systematic levels.

    Speaker Request




Marissa Sweet is the Education and Training Voucher Program Coordinator, and Sarah Redmon serves as Project Coordinator for OYE. Marissa and Sarah both have, “lived experience,” in the system and a wealth of experience engaging foster youth to build social capital. 

Marissa Sweet
Education and Training Voucher Program Coordinator
1901 Bragaw St. Suite 105


Sarah Redmon
Project Coordinator
1901 Bragaw St. Suite 105
Phone: (907) 786-6776