Meet Mame Niang


Mame Niang

Hi, my name is Mame Niang. This is my second year working as an advocate with the Fostering Youth Success Alliance (FYSA) and I now serve as a FYSA Lead Advocate. Returning to the FYSA program is one of the best choices I made. Currently, I’m pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Criminology and Africana Studies at John Jay College. Throughout my time living in the United States, I participated in different fellowships including the Department of Education Program (DOE), the CUNY Ambassador Program, and the John Jay Immigrant Success Center Pipeline, where I assist undocumented immigrants with their TAP and scholarship applications. I also advocated with the Street Vendor Project for street vendors.

However, my passion to advocate for opportunities for foster youth is personal. Since my first year working with FYSA, I immediately connected to the importance of advocating for stable support for students with a foster care background. I decided to become a FYSA advocate because many youth in foster care attending school across the state of New York need stable support, especially when they decide to pursue higher education. This is a policy issue that is important to me because it is where the pathways to success start. To empower young students with a foster care background, we need to invest in their future. During my time working with students who have a foster care background, we often experienced challenges when applying for federal and state financial aid because there are so many documents that are difficult to obtain. While working as a college coach, I remember asking a student if they had a foster care background and they shared with me that they were currently in foster care. While helping them complete their financial aid application, we needed to know some information and made several phone calls but were unable to get the right answers to move forward. In the end, we were still left struggling to get them support. This is why when I learned about the Foster Youth College Success Initiative (FYCSI) I knew how much support FYCSI could provide students with a foster care background. Students with a foster care background often face challenges and obstacles that can impact their academic success. Programs like the FYCSI provide students with support and guidance to help them navigate these challenges effectively. The FYCSI connects students with a foster care background to a range of resources such as tutoring, mentoring, counseling, and other support to help foster youth stay on track academically. I wish my students knew about FYCSI at an earlier stage; it would have made our lives easier.

I want to be remembered as someone who fought for individual freedom and the benefit of all human beings, especially people without families. People who are in need of support just like I was. This is why we need a $10 million dollars investment in the Foster Youth College Success Initiative in the 2024-25 New York State budget. Programs like FYCSI help foster youth feel empowered and supported to succeed in their personal and academic lives. Overall, connecting students with a foster care background to programs like FYCSI is essential for ensuring their academic success, well-being, and future opportunities.