Mara Powell

LOUISVILLE, KY – Kentucky Youth Advocates and True Up are pleased to announce a formal partnership between the two organizations. As of April 1, 2021, True Up is officially an affiliated initiative of Kentucky Youth Advocates. True Up Executive Director Nikki Thornton has joined Kentucky Youth Advocates’ team with the intent to expand on True Up’s successful track record of engaging, empowering, and connecting young people ages 16 and older who are currently in or have transitioned out of foster care.

“Since our founding in 2011, True Up’s mission has been to focus and connect people to ensure that foster youth believe in themselves and excel in life. Over the last decade we have connected young people with mentors and community resources, provided experiential learning opportunities, and advocated to extend the length of time young people have to decide to stay connected to the child welfare system. We want all young people in foster care to gain the critical life skills they need to make a successful transition from a structured environment to self-sufficiency in our communities,” said Frank Harshaw, Chairman and Founder of True Up.

True Up will keep its original mission with Kentucky Youth Advocates serving as the backbone organization.

“Young people who have experienced foster care know better than anyone the challenges it brings. They need to be leading the way when it comes to designing solutions. We have long valued our partners at True Up for connecting us with smart, passionate young leaders and celebrate this opportunity to deepen our capacity to authentically engage youth to improve the way our child welfare, justice, and education systems serve young people,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

“Adolescence, which roughly spans ages 14 to 25, is an important time for young people as they transition to adulthood. Now more than ever, our young people in foster care need supportive adults who can help them build their capabilities, heal from traumatic experiences, and set the trajectory of their lives on a positive path. This partnership with Kentucky Youth Advocates will help True Up expand our reach statewide, support and inspire new leaders, and make Kentucky the best place to be young,” said Nikki Thornton, executive director of True Up.

Brooks asserts, “I do have a real sense of optimism around this landscape, even as challenging and complex as it is if — and only if — we ensure that the essential ingredient of collaboration is front and center. Collaboration means on the ground practitioners. Collaboration means leaders in Washington D.C. and Frankfort. Collaboration means faith communities and businesses. And collaboration — above all — means authentic engagement by the young people themselves. Collaboration is the catalyst for making tomorrow’s reality one of promise for every young person in the child welfare system.”

Learn more about True Up at


Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at