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Boston Entrepreneur Launches ‘Project F’ To Offer Foster Kids Family Through Fitness

Jason Setaro built big, broad shoulders from his years as a personal trainer and gym owner, and now he wants to use them to lift up a forgotten group of kids.

Setaro, who owns North End Fitness in Boston, grew up in the foster care system and wants to provide the next generation of foster children with a place to build a community and find a passion. He calls it Project F.

“As a child I had no sense of direction, and I didn’t think anyone cared whether I made it in life or ended up in prison,” he wrote in a GoFundMe campaign. “That changed when a great mentor came into my life. He loved me unconditionally when I didn’t have a family to do so, and he taught me that my life matters.”

Setaro graduated from Boston University in 2011 and in the intervening years started two successful gyms. He said he wanted Project F to give foster children hands-on experience in the things it took him years to learn.

“Under my supervision, foster children will set up the studio, get the word out about it, and administer it every day,” he wrote. “While I train the clients, the kids will learn the basics of fitness and running a business. More importantly, they’ll have a place to call their own and a mentor who can relate to their experiences.

Setaro plans to hire 10 to 12 foster kids to start and grow the gym under his guidance, and that number could grow as the business does. They will work side-by-side with him to develop their skills – but it won’t come cheap.

Setaro estimates he needs about $85,000 to make his dream a reality. He recently held a fundraiser, and he hopes to generate $65,000 through the GoFundMe.

He broke down the costs: $42,000 would cover rent for a space in Boston for a year, $35,000 would pay for the equipment like weights and machinery, and $8,000 would go toward administrative costs like setting up a 501( c) 3. However, Setaro believes the value of hope is immeasurable.

Life for adults raised in the foster care system is often a bleak one. According to the National Foster Youth Institute97 percent will not attend college.

In Massachusetts, more than a third of them end up homeless at some point in their lives, and more than two-thirds will be arrested before they turn 30. Setaro believes he would have joined them if he hadn’t found a mentor and a passion.

“The system is broken, you can’t argue that,” Setaro said in a video he made for the GoFundMe. “There’s an old saying that ‘somebody’s got to do something about it,’ and that’s what I want to do. That’s the heart of Project F.”

click here to learn more about Setaro’s GoFundMe campaign.

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