who we are
Through repeated failures in school and a constant stream of changes both in and outside of the classroom, foster youth lose sight of their potential and give up faith in the opportunities that await them,
We find this heartbreaking and unacceptable and we are doing something about it. We have the passion and expertise to effect immediate and lasting change through our innovative programming.
The Advisory board
President Lauren founded The Academy Project as a result of her passion for and career working with foster youth. She attended New York University where she graduated cum laude with a degree in Theater and Psychology. She has been a lifelong advocate for foster youth and continues to work to strengthen the relationships between the systems and organizations that support foster youth.
Originally from Los Angeles County, Cheyenne has done extensive work in her community. She volunteers with her former group home, St Annes, talking to the residents and staff about what made her journey unique. She is also a YTP facilitator for the Y.O.U.T.H. Training project, an organization that speaks to social workers and public welfare workers on the challenges that foster youth face today. Her most important job is being a mom to her 5 year old daughter, Layla.
Claire Conly joined The Academy Project in 2019 and sits on the funding committee. She attended UCLA where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Political Science. Currently living in Orange County, Claire works at Harvey & Company as a M&A research analyst. In addition to TAP, she sits on the tribal council for the Gabrielino-Tongva Indians of California and volunteers as a military caseworker for the Red Cross.
Clare is an experienced business leader with over 15 years of experience in developing high performing organizations. Clare first became involved with The Academy Project via a volunteer assignment on strategic planning. She quickly saw the need for a different approach to educating foster youth in LA, and continues to provide her expertise.
Tammy Watson-Smith is a Principal and the Operations Leader for Mercer in the West Market. She is responsible for managing improvement processes and communication activities as well as project scoping and planning to ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget. She acts as a strategic thinking partner with the Market CEO on new initiatives, business issues or concerns. Mercer is one of the operating companies of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., (“MMC”) a global professional.
Amy Christine is Los Angeles’s only Master of Wine, and one of only 12 female MWs in North America. She and her husband, Peter Hunken, own Holus Bolus winery in Lompoc, and she also works in sales for Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. In addition, Amy is a partner at Wine Ring Inc, a wine centric technology company. Amy and her husband are parents to a 23 year old daughter adopted from the LA Foster Care System 2009, and are staunch advocates for children in foster care.
Mary has had a long and established career as a critical care and research RN. Wanting to have a more active role in changing and shaping current situations and events Mary left the nursing role and went on to become an entrepreneur who has been a significant part of starting several successful businesses in the pharmaceutical and retail arenas. During all of her jobs and endeavors she has maintained being an advocate for people’s rights.
Michele is the Founder of The Forward Project, a Los Angeles-based consultancy that designs and develops powerful mindset, emotional intelligence, and behavior-based leadership training programs to help organizations discover new ways to grow revenues, strengthen their culture, and accelerate their impact. She is an angel investor, a Certified Sommelier, and a lover of travel, food, languages, and making a positive difference in the lives of foster youth.
Maria joined TAP in Winter of 2021 and earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology graduating Magna Cum Laude within her major from KSU in Georgia. She has been an active member in community outreach in her home state through projects in environmental conservation. Now residing in Los Angeles, Maria attends Mann UCLA weekly for our Co-Op program designed for educational enrichment. Engaging our youth members in activities catered towards social and emotional learning.
our Board of Directors
Celia Botet - Treasurer
Sheila Cutchlow - Board of Directors
The Loyola Cubs for Foster Youth programs with TAP are based on the foundation of mentoring. Cubs for Foster Youth provide free virtual tutoring, plan seasonal events and outings for Cubs and foster youth mentees, all to spend time together and have fun creating a strong and dependable mentee/mentor relationship.
We have been incredibly fortunate. Thank you to all of our Supporters & Partners.
iFoster is a national organization providing 100s of Resources to foster youth, kinship youth, caregivers and to foster care agencies through partnerships with 100s of companies, government agencies and Non-Profits nationwide. Free and deeply discounted products and services are available to meet your biggest needs. iFoster provides a secure digital locker to transition age youth where youth access online storage of their vital documents.
Working through a network of high-performing, community-based schools and a portfolio of programs that reach students across LA County, the LA Promise Fund creates vibrant community hubs and partnerships that foster motivated, engaged, and directed students poised for academic, professional, and personal success. The Los Angeles Promise Fund is a unique hybrid, operating programs in partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District at two traditional, comprehensive high schools and a middle school, as well as high profile, far-reaching programs and engagement opportunities available to students and teachers across Los Angeles County.
Schools in the LA Promise Fund family serve as the hub of wraparound services to support the whole child and family. Over 70 specially screened partners providing over 200 services work together to address the comprehensive needs of the school community. The LA Promise Fund rigorously screens all potential partners and manage partners to clear service agreements. As a result, partners deliver the highest quality programs to students and families in the LA Promise Fund Neighborhood.
UniCamp is an independently funded 501(c)3 that annually links 500 UCLA student volunteers with over 1,200 urban LA youth. Started in 1928, UniCamp's facilities are based in the San Bernadino mountains, and allow campers to participate in activities such as mountain biking, swimming, archery, climbing, hiking, and arts & crafts.
TAP is partnering with UniCamp to deliver the second week of Camp Xavier.
Founded in San Francisco in 1994 as a small network of like-minded therapists, A Home Within has grown to become the only national organization dedicated solely to meeting the emotional needs of foster youth. 79% of foster youth that have been through their program show statistically significant reductions in anxiety, depression and dissociation.
As a key delivery partner, A Home Within will leverage their experiences and expertise to provide therapeutic services to members of The Academy Project.
adaptEd consultants are a team of passionate scientists and educators who deliver innovative and empowering programming, rooted in the foundations of neuroscience and psychology research.
adaptED will be working with TAP to design and deliver staff training programs, so that staff promote to Members a growth mindset, and are empathetic to any trauma Members may have experienced. adaptED will also be delivering several sessions with Members themselves to demonstrate the brain science behind continual learning.