Think of Us Raises $47.5 Million to Improve Child Welfare Systems

Posted April 18, 2023
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Sixto Cancel stands in front of idea board. He wears a blue Think of Us t-shirt.

The non­prof­it Think of Us will expand its efforts to trans­form child wel­fare sys­tems thanks to a $47.5 mil­lion, five-year invest­ment from the Auda­cious Project, a fun­der asso­ci­at­ed with the TED social change con­fer­ences and pod­casts. Think of Us report­ed that the fund­ing rep­re­sents one of the largest invest­ments giv­en to a sys­tems-change orga­ni­za­tion run by a leader of col­or with fos­ter care experience.

Known for its work com­bin­ing new tech­nol­o­gy appli­ca­tions with the ideas and needs of young peo­ple with fos­ter care expe­ri­ence, Think of Us is a grantee of the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion. It was found­ed in 2015 by Six­to Can­cel, whose ear­ly expe­ri­ences in youth advo­ca­cy as a Jim Casey Fel­low with the Casey Foun­da­tion helped shape his career path. Can­cel has worked with the Oba­ma, Trump and Biden admin­is­tra­tions as well as Con­gress and has been rec­og­nized as a Forbes Top 30 Under 30 Social Entre­pre­neur and a White House Cham­pi­on of Change.

Part­ners in Child Wel­fare Sys­tem Transformation

The Auda­cious Project funds, announced on April 17, 2023, will enable Think of Us to build on its work to design data-dri­ven and soft­ware-enabled solu­tions that change child wel­fare sys­tems and improve out­comes for chil­dren and families.

As a Casey Foun­da­tion grantee, Think of Us engages young peo­ple and fam­i­lies who have fos­ter care expe­ri­ence in sys­tems change efforts. Its long­time part­ner­ship with Casey will con­tin­ue as Think of Us expands. Com­bined with fund­ing from the Casey Foun­da­tion and oth­er phil­an­thropic part­ners, the Auda­cious Pro­jec­t’s back­ing moves Think of Us toward its long-term goal of invest­ing $100 mil­lion in three priorities:

In 2021, Think of Us har­nessed social media and oth­er tech­nol­o­gy to build an out­reach cam­paign called Check for Us to help states track down young peo­ple who were eli­gi­ble for fed­er­al relief funds. The effort alert­ed young peo­ple who had aged out of fos­ter care and recon­nect­ed them with state sys­tems so they could apply for the aid by the dead­line. Can­cel, who expe­ri­enced fos­ter care as a child, includ­ed peers as advi­sors and part­ners in design­ing the cam­paign, which reached 30,000 young people.

As a col­lab­o­ra­tor and advo­cate in the field of child wel­fare trans­for­ma­tion, Think of Us is unique in the way it designs solu­tions with the pow­er of tech­nol­o­gy and the exper­tise of young peo­ple who have expe­ri­enced fos­ter care,” said San­dra Gas­ca-Gon­za­lez, vice pres­i­dent of the Casey Foundation’s Cen­ter for Sys­tems Inno­va­tion. This is a tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ty for Six­to and Think of Us to scale inno­va­tions that improve out­comes for young peo­ple — as a long­time part­ner, we could not be more excit­ed about its potential.”

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