Bay Area teen creates app to help foster youth get to college

HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) -- Eighteen-year-old Mt. Eden High School grad, Joseph Franco, landed in the top three of the national Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship pitch competition in New York City. He beat out 23,000 students.

"I was like, 'wow people actually like it,'" Franco said.

"Me and his teacher and counselor were texting back and forth talking about how proud we were of him," Marlan Simpson, Mt. Eden Assistant Principal, said.

Franco has created an app dedicated to connecting foster youth to a peer network and the tools they need for college.

The app is called F-connect.

Franco connected with Paypal and is now working with a team of their "hackers" to launch the app. Through an online template, you can see the app will allow foster youth to discover a study buddy, college application information, housing tools, and much more.

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It's something Franco wishes he had had. He entered foster care at age 15.

"There were a lot of struggles and miscommunications I had with my social worker," Franco said.

Franco knew other foster youth with the similar stories.

"They're always going," Franco said. "Jumping from houses, from schools, they need this support."

According to, 70 percent of California foster youth want to go to college, but only 20 percent go, and of those only 3 percent graduate.

"The last five years the state has made incredible progress in thinking about this and in thinking about what happens to foster youth after they turn 18," Ken Berrick, CEO of Seneca Family Agencies said.

Berrick believes the app is a great step, as do former foster youth.

"Gaining access to communities and networks is super important," Kevin Clark, a former foster youth said.

In about four months, F-connect will appear in app stores.
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