As a young girl, Shanté Elliott was thrust into independence due to two absent biological parents. With no blueprint for success, her situation changed at the age of 13 when she was adopted from foster care into her forever family. Thanks to encouraging teachers and family members, Shanté became the first in her family to graduate college, pursue a doctoral degree and become an entrepreneur. Shanté quickly realized that she was not an anomaly – given the proper resources and education, other youth in foster care could succeed the same way. In response, she founded TasselTurn, a technology-based social impact organization that helps homeless and foster-involved students through educational attainment. TasselTurn meets youth where they already are: on the internet. The organization utilizes a unique, hybrid virtual academic coaching model, combined with social-emotional curricula and innovative technology products, to connect students to their own education coach. This education coach provides personalized support, beginning in high school and continues through graduation, to help teenagers transition to college or kick-start meaningful careers. In just two years, TasselTurn has worked with 160 youth members to drive an 80 percent improvement in their school attendance. More than 74 percent show an improvement within just one year and 100 percent re-enrolled with the organization for the following year. Though TasselTurn is still new, it is already making a powerful impact in the lives of children in foster care nationwide.
Being a L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth means having access, opportunity, and community to make foster-involved youth visible to a broader network of peers, so we may all contribute to ensuring this population of young people fulfill their potential and manifest their dreams.