What is your life’s purpose?
My purpose in life to experience as much as I can, try to figure out and reach my potential, and help others to reach their potential as well.
How are you living your purpose?
This is a work in progress, but a key part for me was finding a way to use what I’ve learned in my career to benefit others. To that end, I co-founded iFoster, a national nonprofit with the mission to ensure that every child growing up outside their biological home as the resources and opportunities they need to become successful, independent adults.
My wife was raised in the foster care system, as are over 420,000 children and youth in every community across the U.S. These children are removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or violence, and are sent to live with extended family members or complete strangers, often times being separated from their schools, friends, and communities. They become the responsibility of our tax-funded child welfare system to raise but we are failing these children. The system invests less than 50% of what an average family spends on a child. And the outcomes reflect this lack of investment with 70% of youth who age out of foster care being on some form of social assistance, 50% experiencing homelessness, 50% unemployed, 25% not graduating high school, and less than 3% graduating from college.
iFoster was built to bring this community together online for the first time and provide a mechanism for partners outside of the child welfare system to provide the resources and opportunities they need. These children just need a small investment to reach their potential. That’s what iFoster and its partners seek to provide.
How did you find your purpose?
It was a convergence of my wife and my career paths and what we thought we could uniquely do to help others. My wife spent time in foster care, and that experience created a very personal motivation for us to help children in foster care. We spent years discussing the needs of those in foster care and how what we were doing in our careers might apply.
Seven years ago, our careers and our desire to improve foster care all came together. My wife had a very successful career in strategy consulting and managing major e-commerce platforms; I worked in investment banking and business development learning how to structure partnerships. At the time, the big social networks were going public, and we had the opportunity to work with them and learn how they were building their successful communities. And a light bulb went off: We thought the foster care system needed its own online community, we knew how to build one, and no one else was going to do it since this would not be the way to get rich.
So we created iFoster, and it has since become the largest national online community in foster care with over 42,000 members in all 50 states, and is growing at 500 new members each month. We bridge the foster care system to the outside world to bring new resources and opportunities into our community to give our children and youth a better chance to reach their potential.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
Pay attention to the path you are following in life: what experiences, interests, skills you are accumulating; how you love to spend your free time; what you find rewarding. And when opportunities come up that combine them, jump at them. You may find that one opportunity leads to another, and another, and you start filling up more of your life with your individual purpose.
I think the best guide is paying attention to what makes you feel good about yourself. Life deals you opportunities to be the person you want to be, take advantage of them when they come up.
Reid Cox is the Co-Founder & CFO of iFoster, the largest and most inclusive online community of young people and organizations in foster care with currently over 42,500 members in all 50 states. iFoster is a national non-profit that bridges the gap between youth in the child welfare system and the external corporations, foundations and government agencies who have the resources to help them succeed. Reid is responsible for corporate partnerships and financial oversight. Reid provides over 20 years of experience in executive-level management, investment banking, business development, financial reporting and corporate communications. Reid has come a long way from a two-room school house in rural Canada and is a first generation college graduate with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Master’s Degree in Business Administration. For his work with iFoster, Reid has been recognized with a 2017 AARP Purpose Prize.