Who We Are

Our History

Foster Alumni Mentors (FAM) was founded in 2017 and received official 501(c)(3) status in 2019. Through the support of our first fiscal sponsor, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Mesa County, FAM was able to do a lot during these first few years, including assembling a board of directors, creating a signature fundraising event, and most importantly, serving our Members (foster alumni). FAM started out primarily providing social activities, known as FAM Time, and mentoring services.

Since 2020, FAM has grown immensely—membership is up by roughly 300% and our organizational revenue has grown nearly five-fold. Over the past few years, we have been fortunate to have received some incredible donations and grant awards that has allowed us to up-level our services to now include regular workshops, specialized groups and leadership programs. We are the proud recipient of funding from:

  • Bray Cares Foundation
  • Mesa County Department of Human Services
  • Rocky Mountain Health Foundation
  • State of Colorado Department of Human Services, Tony Grampsas Youth Services
  • State of Colorado Department of Local Affairs
  • The Giving Club
  • Western Colorado Community Foundation (designated trusts)
  • United Way of Mesa County

In the coming years, we look forward to at least doubling our current Member enrollment and continuing to expand our available services. Specific focus areas include solidifying a “housing + services” model for young people aging out of foster care, expanding our life skills programming and curriculum (designed by a foster alumni!), and increasing scholarship opportunities.

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Total people served by FAM since starting in 2017
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Total mentoring hours provided in 2023
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of FAM Members report increasing their self-reliance and stability since becoming involved with FAM

Our Mission

To build community around foster alumni

Our Vision

A community where foster alumni are supported, prepared, and confident.

Our Values

G.R.A.C.E. — Growth, Relationships, Advocacy, Community, and Empathy

Why a starfish?

The starfish in our branding comes from a familiar tale of two men on a beach—a story that was on the front page of a booklet our founder, Kimberly Raff, received in 9th grade. Forever struck by the story and committed to always trying to make a difference in the life of everyone she meets, the starfish became symbolic of and relevant to our work with foster care alumni.

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” he asks.

“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in, they will die.”

“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea.

“It made a difference to that one.”

Meet Our Founder

Kimberly Raff is our Founder and Executive Director. She had a difficult childhood, moving from city to city and state to state, living in a home with drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, neglect, and physical abuse. Staying with family and friends during her early years, she didn’t enter the foster care system until the age of 14, when she and her siblings were removed due to physical abuse.

She graduated high school and three months before her 18th birthday, she learned she would need to leave her foster home in Minnesota. With her mom and stepdad living in Colorado, the idea of not having anywhere to go after graduation was scary and daunting. Even though her mom came up to get her, she would ultimately end up leaving Kimberly on her own in a new state.

Working three jobs and struggling to survive, one of her employers approached her and asked if she was interested in enrolling in college. This changed the trajectory of her life. After attending Colorado Mesa University for 12 years, she became the first in her family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

Kimberly then served as a case manager in the local child welfare division and saw teens in foster care facing the same issues she had when she aged out. She never mentioned this part of her life with friends or colleagues to avoid feelings of shame and negative views of “foster kids.” Eventually, Kimberly shared part of her story and the person she told was surprised, noting that they thought she had grown up in a middle-class family. This made Kimberly wonder what adults who had been in foster care were “supposed” to look like and what people thought they would become.

Searching for other adults like her, she found Fostering Change Network and attended their 2nd Annual Alumni Powerhouse Networking Conference. At the event, she met many amazing foster alumni who, like her, were leading “normal” lives, contributing to their communities, and giving back. Just before attending, Kimberly had been brainstorming about starting a non-profit that would serve young adults who aged out of foster care—this event gave her the motivation and confidence to do just that.

In June 2017, Kimberly left her position in child welfare to start Foster Alumni Mentors (FAM). Through her exceptional commitment and the continued support of many individuals, FAM has since served hundreds of foster alumni in Mesa County, with a vision of expanding across the nation.

Meet Our Board of Directors

Shelley Carpenter

President

Chase Hagen

Vice President

Sarah Evans

Secretary

Kurtis Murchison

Treasurer

Theresa Yoder

Board Member

Sadye Saad

Board Member

Meet Our Staff

Kimberly Raff

Executive Director

Brenda Pyle

Development Coordinator

Baylee Torres

Alumni Coordinator Lead

Lexie Butler

Alumni Advocate

Brittnee Roberts

Accountant

Sarah Francis

Office Assistant

Natasha Fox

Alumni Advocate Intern

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