Rise Above is dedicated to providing Massachusetts children in foster care with enriching activities, opportunities and experiences. Founded in 2009, Rise Above is a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that responds to the growing need to give youth in foster care opportunities that will give them a sense of normalcy, provide comfort and build self-esteem.

By funding individual wishes for requests like prom expenses, soccer registration, and clarinet lessons, Rise Above provides positive experiences for children in foster care.


The Issue

Right now in Massachusetts there are over 10,000 youth in foster care.

For any youth, adjusting to a new living environment, school and peers can be a challenge. But youth in foster care are also faced with addressing life that stem from abuse or neglect. Youth who have been abused are more likely to have difficulties making friends, struggle with academics and have physical and mental health problems (1). But by providing youth with healthy activities that many consider a normal part of growing up, such as sports and the arts, we can better prepare them to overcome the unfathomable hardships they face in their young lives. Foster youth who receive these extra services benefit physically and emotionally, and, after leaving care, experience fewer medical problems and reduced rates of depression, anxiety, PTSD and substance abuse (2). Unfortunately, the high price of extracurricular activities frequently becomes a barrier for the state or foster parents to offer youth extracurricular activities (Did you know foster parents are only paid about $30/day to provide for all of a youth’s basic needs?).

That’s where Rise Above comes in: providing funding for individual activity requests for youth in foster care.

(1) Courtney, M. E., & Heuring, D. H. (2005). The Transition to Adulthood for Youth “Aging Out” of the Foster Care System. In D. W. Osgood, On Your Own Without a Net: The Transition to Adulthood for Vulnerable Populations (p. 44).

 (2) Kessler, R. C., Pecora, P. J., & Williams, J. (2008). Effects of Enhanced Foster Care on the Long-term Physical and Mental Health of Foster Care Alumni. Archives of General Psychiatry , 65 (6).

"Rise Above Foundation fulfills a highly unique mission… it is the opportunities to have ‘ordinary’ experiences that can be fundamental to the developmental course of young people. Research studies have consistently found this to be the case… such opportunities have a central role in child and adolescent development that can have numerous effects on creating a positive life trajectory."Mary Elizabeth Collins, M.A., Ph.D., Boston University School of Social Work

What We Do

Rise Above funds individual activities wishes for children in foster care through an online application process. All children who are in the physical care and custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), are eligible. Applications can be completed by a child’s DCF social worker, the child or young adult himself or herself, the child’s foster parent, or any other support to the child, such as a teacher, mentor or therapist.

Who is eligible?

Children who are in the physical care and custody of the Massachusetts DCF, including youth in CFC, independent living, group home, and residential placements. Young adults 18 years and older who have voluntarily signed themselves in with the Massachusetts DCF are also eligible.

Who can complete the application?

  • DCF social worker
  • Child or young adult
  • Foster parent
  • Other support (teacher, mentor, clinician, etc.)

*Please note that the individual completing the application MUST have the approval of the child’s DCF social worker.

How does the application process work?

Rise Above reviews applications on a rolling basis, and considers community resources, previous requests, current available funds, and the nature of the activity being requested in making the decision to fund a request.

Examples of what we fund:

  • Musical instrument rentals and purchase
  • Karate, dance, gymnastic, music and other lessons
  • Little League, soccer, football, and other team sport fees, and uniforms, equipment, and league fees
  • Bicycles, roller blades, pads and helmets
  • Theme park admission tickets
  • Class trips, family vacations
  • Concert and sporting event tickets
  • Religious/cultural celebrations (Quinceanera, Bar and Bat Mitvahs, Confirmation, etc.)
  • Prom clothes, tickets, and photos
  • Graduation clothes
  • Post-secondary education and training
  • Apartment set-ups

“We work with children that have histories of complex trauma, and being exposed to extracurricular activities helps them with social skills, gives them new opportunities to help them dream big, it effects their self-esteem and it makes them feel like they’re a regular kid… Our children would not get the opportunity to participate in such events if it wasn’t for Rise Above.”
– LaVerne Miller, Program Director, HopeWell

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