UT student nonprofit FostaParty receives grant to continue throwing birthday parties for foster children

Leila Saidane, Senior News Reporter

A student-led nonprofit that sets up birthday party kits for children in the foster care system received a $5,000 grant in February to continue organizing and funding its initiatives. 

FostaParty’s birthday kits allow foster parents to throw parties for foster children for free. FostaParty founder Khira Patel launched the company in March 2020. Patel said she was inspired to provide parties for foster children because she used to mentor them in high school. 

“Children in the foster system don’t necessarily have the opportunity to create those positive childhood memories that are extremely formative to growth and development,” Patel said. “And so I thought … this was a great way to help solve the root cause of children not being able to have these opportunities for positive experiences.” 

FostaParty received the grant through the David and Tabitha Endowment for Female Entrepreneurship within the College of Fine Arts’ Center for Creative Entrepreneurship. Jan Ryan, the executive director of the center, said this is the first grant awarded by the endowment.

The grant will help FostaParty invest in a supply inventory and fund in-person parties, Patel said. 

Chloe Rice, FostaParty’s finance and operations manager, said the grant will allow flexibility within FostaParty’s business model of allowing sponsor families to purchase a party plan for themselves and for a foster family. 

“In order for (the business model) to work, especially when we have no initial funding, we have to squeeze costs pretty tight, trying to minimize everything just so that it works out,” said Rice, a management information systems senior. “The business model is a lot more sustainable if each foster party is also funded through things like a grant or donations. The fact that we now have a store of revenues that we can put toward these foster parties allows us to be less limited in scope by the amount of money we’re able to get from sponsor families.”

FostaParty earned nonprofit status in August 2021, helping legitimize the nonprofit and make it more accessible to partner with other organizations, Patel said. FostaParty is finalizing a partnership with another organization to help siblings who have been separated in foster care celebrate their birthdays together.

“(Those siblings) don’t get to necessarily have that bond and be able to spend time together, so we’re going to use this organization that focuses on bringing these families together during the special time,” Patel said.

FostaParty currently sends parties in a box that families set up themselves due to the pandemic, but Patel said she hopes the company can begin setting up and hosting the parties in-person.

“There’s so many ways that we can dream so big,” Patel said. “I would love for all of them to have a birthday celebration that (forms) memories they can cherish forever.  And (we hope) to grow not only in Texas, but even beyond Texas, and celebrate as many children as possible, possibly even beyond birthday celebrations … in all milestones of their lives.”