MONTGOMERY, W.Va. — Plans to turn the former WVU Tech campus in Montgomery into a place for young adults transitioning out of foster care have hit a financial roadblock.
The Riverbend Center project from KVC Health Systems, which would be the first-ever college campus for youth emerging from foster care, has recently scaled back its spending until more financing can be secured, spokesperson Jenny Kutz told MetroNews.
“We just have to streamline our operations and look at the financial support we have to make it successful,” she said. “We are in constant contact with WVU. We’re as committed as ever.”
The West Virginia University Board of Governors approved a lease-purchase agreement with KVC for the former Tech campus on April 17. KVC has announced partnerships with BridgeValley Community and Technical College, which occupies several former WVU Tech buildings, and the Charleston YMCA to help with programs on campus.
MetroNews has learned KVC cut ties recently with a Charleston area attorney doing work for the organization and also ended a relationship with a Charleston public relations firm.
“Right now the biggest challenge we are working through is just ensuring that we have enough public and private financial support to successfully launch the initiative,” Kutz said. “This is something we’ve been working on for five years now and we want all youth to have a bright future.”
But, Kutz said. there’s more difficulty securing the financing than first thought.
“There’s been a lot of verbal support, a ton of enthusiasm. We’ve had articles online viewed tens of thousands of times and there’s a lot of interest and a lot of need but it’s been a little more difficult to get the public and private financial support that is really critical,” Kutz said.
It’s going to take a multi-million dollar effort to make the necessary capital improvements on the Montgomery campus and create a start-up fund, Kutz said.
“We’re just trying to get through this transition period and finalize the plan so we can know what kind of services we will be able to offer,” she said.
It was announced last February that BridgeValley would provide all of the educational components for students.
The students would live in the area and work year-round. KVC has been seeking funding to pay for every students’ tuition, living expenses and for them to have a job in the community.
KVC, which works in foster care in several states, has said 30,000 kids leave foster care every year in the United States without being reunited with their families. Of those 30,000, about two percent are successful in completing post-secondary education.
Kutz said many of the young adults end up homeless.
“The need remains and that’s why we still work on it day-after-day and we’re just working to do what we can to build the financial support to make it happen.”
KVC has previously said it hoped to welcome about 50 students in its first year.