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University team hoping to boost employment opportunities for Foster Youth

28 February 2019
Competition encourages students to take on challenging social issue
Sydney University Business School undergraduates to present a plan to end the ‘post foster care crisis’ to a panel of judges at a Hult Prize Regional competition in Melbourne in March.
Timothy Walsh, Samantha Schwarz, Symret Singh and Joseph Bennett.

Timothy Walsh, Samantha Schwarz, Symret Singh and Joseph Bennett.


Nearly 50 thousand young people are now subject to out-of-home or foster care, across Australia. With foster care goes educational disruption, emotional stress and low levels of self-esteem.

As a result, an estimated 75 percent of foster care youth transitioning to adulthood take four or more years to find a job.

A team of four Business School undergraduates believe that resolving this ‘post foster care crisis’ is a task for business and they will soon put an idea to a panel of judges at a Hult Prize Regional competition in Melbourne.

“Solving the world’s most pressing challenges is not just the right thing to do, it is also good business,” once said US businessman, Ahmad Ashkar.

Acting on this belief and with the assistance of the Boston based Hult International Business School, Ashkar established the Hult Prize in 2009 to encourage “start-up ideas from young people that sustainably solve the world’s most critical social challenges”.

Today, the Hult Prize is described as “the world’s biggest engine for the launch of for-good, for-profit start-ups emerging from universities with over 2500 staff and volunteers around the globe”.

Over the past decade, it has injected nearly A$70 million into the start-up sector and “mobilized more than one million young people in 100 countries to re-think the future of business”.

“The Hult Prize on campus program challenges university students to develop a sustainable business model addressing a manifest social issue,” says student director, Lily Guo. “The winners of the on campus program are invited by the Hult Prize to progress to the Regionals round, hosted in one of 25 different international locations.”

The Sydney campus winners Platform FTF presented the judges with an internet platform which connects foster youth with businesses providing employment related skills.

“The Fostering the Future (FTF) platform allows users to access materials on Photoshop, search engine optimisation, Excel, and other technical skills which are essential for gaining employment,” said team member Joseph Bennet.

“FTF also gives foster youth an opportunity to directly showcase their abilities to participating employers,” Joseph said.

“Participating businesses will be able to display an FTF badge and to showcase their involvement with Foster Youth when discussing CSR or social impact obligations,” says team member Symret Singh. “Businesses can also benefit from access to talent.”

The team will again pitch FTF idea at the Hult Prize Melbourne Regionals on March 8th.

The runner-up team in the Sydney Campus Finals CHANCE (Brent Liang, Elisa Lillicrap and Kirath Singh) were also invited by Hult Prize to participate in the Regionals round, in Dubai on March 8th. They are currently preparing a proof of concept event on campus.