PAST EVENT: Foster the Conversation: Continuing Care into College

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

Foster the Conversation: Continuing Care into College
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
4pm PT

It’s National Foster Care Awareness month!

Join us on Tuesday, May 24th at 4 pm for an informative conversation as panelists from Twinspire, California Youth Connection, and United Friends discuss the challenges foster youth face as they approach emancipation at 18 years old and transition to college life on their own.

At this awareness-building symposium, you will learn more about the significant barriers foster youth encounter during this pivotal time and the impact these partner organizations have on our local foster youth. Our panelists will bring their lived experiences and expertise to shed light on this harrowing but exciting milestone in a foster youth’s journey.
We hope you’ll join the conversation to gain knowledge and help spread awareness about the needs and successes of LA County’s youth in care.




In partnership with:

Twinspire advocates, empowers, and educates marginalized young adults and foster youth by equipping them with financial literacy & life skills so they can pursue educational and career opportunities.


California Youth Connection is a youth-led organization with a mission to develop leaders who empower each other and their communities to transform the foster care system through legislative, policy, and practice change.


Our Panel includes:

Michael Jelks is a former foster youth and alumnus of the Pathways program. He studied Sociology at California State University, Los Angeles, and currently works with the music brand LEGENDARIMINDS. Along with being a Hip Hop artist, he works as a case manager at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Florencia (Flo) Valenzuela is a continuing undergraduate student at UCLA studying Sociology and Chicanx Studies. She is also an active youth organizer with California Youth Connection (CYC) where she focuses on advocating for a Guaranteed Income Program for former foster youth and juvenile justice reform.

Demonte “Tray” Thompson serves on UFC’s Board of Directors and is a UFC program alumnus. He cofounded Twinspire with his twin brother Demontae Thompson to educate young adults to become self-sufficient scholars and change agents. Tray is currently Vice President of Producer Development at AIG, providing training to financial advisors in the financial services sector.

Junely Merwin entered foster care at fifteen with her one-month-old son. She earned a full-ride scholarship to CSU Fullerton, where she graduated with a BS in Human Services. Junely is a UFC program alumna who actively advocates for youth in care and works to spread awareness about foster care through social media and her website. Junely’s mission is to inspire change and help foster youth become the best versions of themselves. 

Jasmine Avilez is the Director of Housing at UFC. She first was connected to UFC as a program participant but, in 2018, became a Community Manager in the housing program. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, a master’s degree in human services, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in human services specializing in leadership and organizational management. Her professional career includes 15 years of working in the non-profit sector. Jasmine says, “…who knew that the same organization that deposited into my life would give me the same opportunity to pass the baton to a young adult generation.”

Frankie Zamudio is the Director of Education at UFC. His experiences as a first-generation college graduate shaped his passion for working in education. Francisco joined UFC as a program manager in 2017. Before joining UFC, he spent over a decade working as a Student Affairs professional at numerous universities on the west and east coasts, where he dedicated his energies to supporting first-generation college students and enhancing new student orientations and family programs for incoming students.