Darrell Osborne, Reservist

Darrell Osborne, Reservist: Success Mentor Trainer, PrepNOW!

Darrell Osborne, Reservist

A few years back, after a long and rewarding career as an advertising professional, Darrell Osborne was considering what he was going to do next, when a friend at church told him about ReServe. She was working with the PrepNOW program, helping foster parents learn how to create a college-going culture in their home. Darrell’s experience as a dedicated Sunday school teacher-- combined with an early stint in the education field-- made him a natural to join the team.

“I happened to be looking for a new opportunity when I was introduced to ReServe,” Darrell recalled. “After my friend shared how much she enjoyed working as a Success Mentor with PrepNow, I decided to check it out for myself.”

Once he reached his mid-50s Darrell had noticed that the job market was ‘not geared for elders.’ Yet his age was just the ticket for qualifying for a ReServe position. He attended the orientation for PrepNOW! where he felt moved to take action upon hearing about the plight of youth in foster care. Following that session, signing up to become a Success Mentor was a ‘no brainer,’ as he recalled.

“It’s such a robust and vibrant program, who can resist helping to give these kids the chance to get ahead in life?” he asked. “Plus, the program gives me an outlet to express my passion for higher education.”

Statistics show that each year about 26,000 youth ‘age out’ of the care system. “They feel that no one cares about them, and often they have no one to turn to.” Without a high school diploma many live on the street, go on public assistance or end up in the criminal justice system.

“By engaging foster parents in embracing education as a tool that will benefit youth in their care, PrepNOW! an stem the tide,” Darrell said with the conviction of an advocate. Developed by Fedcap-- ReServe’s parent organization-- with a grant from the Conrad Hilton Foundation, PrepNOW is an exciting web-based professional development tool that helps foster parents develop the skills, knowledge and motivation needed to help young people in their care succeed.

“It’s a roadmap in six modules that walks the foster parents through the process in 4 to 5 weeks,” Darrell explained. The modules include: Values, Motivation, Resilience, Skills and Knowledge, Reslience and That All Important Freshman Year.

Devoting his vast stores of energy to giving young people in foster care a future entails traveling around the City to different community parnters partners, spreading the good word of PrepNOW. “We have an amazing array of tools embedded in the program that make it deeply beneficial to the foster care community-- the message is just overwhelmingly good,” he gushed. “And I am in awe of those students who make it through to college graduation.”

The lessons of PrepNOW, moreover, extend beyond book learning to instruct the students on how to advocate for themselves in the long run. “By reaching out into the community to stem the tide of poverty even in a small way, we will have accomplished our goal,” he said before heading off to East 147 th Street to address another group of eager foster parents.