A Zionsville resident who has a heart for youth and a history of promoting higher education is not only a longtime supporter of Foster Success in Indiana, but she is also one of the Indianapolis-based nonprofit’s most generous donors.
Vanessa Keadle, 37, who lives in Zionsville with her husband and daughter, is a monthly donor to Foster Success, which provides support and resources for teens and young adults transitioning out of the foster care system, for more than three years.
Keadle has participated in several of the organization’s fundraisers, including its Friendsgiving at the end of 2022. Friendsgiving was the most successful fundraising event of the year for Foster Success. The event raised more than $60,000.
Keadle’s interest in the Foster Success program started when her best friend, Monika Mala, was applying for the organization’s chief operating officer position. Keadle quickly embraced the nonprofit’s mission and became a donor.
“What I loved about Foster Success is that they have a very targeted educational angle to their work,” Keadle said. “The program aligned with my daily work and my own personal values, and I thought, ‘What an amazing opportunity to become a monthly donor.’”
Keadle is the chief strategy officer for Student-Ready Strategies, an organization that partners, plans and problem-solves with colleges and universities to help students succeed and evolve. Much like Student-Readiness, Keadle’s initial interest in Foster Success was grounded in its focus on higher education.
Keadle said her desire to help the youth came about when she was a college student and had little knowledge of higher education.
“As a first-generation college student, I wanted to get a degree in higher education leadership and help other students,” she said. “That’s why I admire Foster Success’s work, as they’re trying to change the system.”
Foster Success is the only Indiana nonprofit that supports young adults transitioning out of the state’s foster care system. The program empowers each young person to create their own journey to self-sufficiency and stability by lending support and resources for education, housing, employment and connected support.
As a result of the inclusive work of Foster Success, young adults have the opportunity to thrive and be active participants within their community, according to the organization. For example, Macy Wyant, 23, of Lebanon, has been a part of Foster Success for five years and attributes the organization’s support for her success after transitioning out of the foster care system at age 18.
“I have had nothing but consistent, reliable support since being in Foster Success,” Wyant said. “They helped me transition out of the system into doing regular adult things that I wouldn’t have known how to do prior, like transportation, employment and education. My life coach, Daniel, whom I am so grateful for, helped me in many ways.”
Macy’s life coach, Daniel Hurst, the program coordinator for the Workforce Readiness program of Foster Success, said that a simple investment of time and belief in a young person’s ability go a long way in helping former foster care kids succeed.
“Working with Macy has been a true joy,” Hurst said. “She is a motivated, positive and determined young woman who has worked hard to both seize on the opportunities that are available to her and build pathways to success on her own terms.”
Wyant, like many other foster youths, is utilizing the federally funded and administered Education and Training Voucher program to take classes at Ivy Tech.
“I truly believe higher education is a great equalizer and the way out of some situations that people may be experiencing,” Keadle said. “And the fact that Macy will be attending Ivy Tech makes me so happy to know that she was supported in a way that she now feels confident enough to go to college.”
Keadle said she will continue contributing to Foster Success and supporting youth.
Macy’s foster care story
Macy Wyant, a Lebanon resident and former foster youth, first entered the foster care system at age 17, a few years after her father died. Wyant’s mother had a history of addiction and couldn’t care for her, ultimately leaving her in the hands of the state of Indiana.
Although fearful in the beginning of entering the foster care system, Wyant credits it for her success as a young adult.
“I’ve had nothing but a positive experience being a foster youth, which was not what I was expecting from the time I went into the system.” Wyant said. “I was 19 and living in a hotel for a month, and I reached out to Foster Success in a time of need, and they helped me. They have always gone above and beyond to ensure we are taken care of.”
Wyant said Foster Success provided the support she needed through people and programs, and she wants to someday provide similar support for other foster youth. Last year, she participated in a few Indiana Youth Advisory Board meetings as a youth board member.
“Being able to go to the meetings, use my voice, and be heard means so much to me,” she said. “I want to advocate for the foster youth.”
Wyant is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She wants to become an addiction counselor and fulfill her dream of becoming a foster parent.
“In the future, no matter what route I take, I want to help those in need all the time,” she said.