Against all odds, former foster kid dons graduation cap

New America Media
 — May 31 2012 - 3:40pm

The last time Lerone Matthis was released from the Division of Juvenile Justice in April 2008, he feared he had reached bottom.

“I was discouraged by the [diminished] prospects for a meaningful future,” Matthis recalled.

He didn’t have a place to rest his head, bathe or change his clothes. He wore the same jeans and white shirt “that was dingy around the neck” because it hadn’t been washed for a month. Since he didn’t have a place to store his clothes, he bought socks from a neighborhood liquor store. He relied on relatives and friends for food and shelter. Other times, the former foster youth simply went hungry.

When he learned of the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services Second Chance Program, an educational support system for the formerly incarcerated, he enrolled at City College of San Francisco. Still, Matthis, a 29-year-old single father of two young children, said he didn’t believe he would finish school.

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