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Foster Nation’s CareerX Coaching Program Forges 140 Connections for Foster Youth


[The following mid-year update was written by the organization and then sent to us for further sharing.]

Foster Nation is delighted to share the progress of CareerX – our flagship coaching program that helps foster youth in the Los Angeles area learn life, social, and professional skills that increase self-confidence and self-sufficiency after foster care. The average American who grows up with a biological family will live at home or receive support until the age of 27. In contrast, foster youth without family or support networks are sent into the world at 18 or 21 with a trash bag and few resources to meet the demands of adulthood. Foster youth change placements 8 times on average before emancipation, but many move through 20-50 placements before aging out of foster care. This constant instability puts emancipated youth at higher risk for homelessness, incarceration, trafficking, and mental and physical health challenges. Without a reliable support network, foster youth find themselves in an uphill battle to complete college or get into a career path.

The heart of Foster Nation’s work is establishing a community that foster youth can rely on for support so that they know they are not alone. CareerX matches current and former foster youth with a trained volunteer career coach who helps them develop the fundamental skills, social networks, and confidence that they need to enter the workforce and adulthood with confidence. At Foster Nation, we believe that we all have the power to be better than the circumstances we were born into – sometimes, we just need a hand up. With the generosity of LA2050 and the Goldhirsh Foundation, we are scaling CareerX to empower more foster youth across Los Angeles.

Program Progress

Our programs exist not only to address basic needs but also to provide meaningful connections and create opportunities for promising career paths to ensure self-sufficiency. This is the reason that we launched CareerX in 2022. Since then, we have fostered 140 positive coaching relationships, resulting in greater educational attainment and degree completion, career readiness, and leadership capabilities.

Foster Nation welcomed Cohort 2.0 in March 2023 and celebrated their graduation 9 months later from CareerX in November 2023. CareerX had a total of 68 participants complete the program. In all, 80% of foster youth who participated in the program saw an improvement in their GPA, 90% of those who were looking for jobs received one, and 82% would recommend the program to a friend.

Cohort 3.0 began in August 2023 and just ended in February 2024, with 86 participants successfully completing the program. Given the feedback from our past focus groups, Cohort 3.0 was shortened to a 6-month program to better increase engagement and efficiency for program participants. We are proud to share what the youth in our 3.0 cohort have achieved in just 6 months:

  • 66.7% of youth who were looking for a job secured one during the program
  • 80% of those enrolled in school saw improvements in their GPA
  • 100% of those applying to grad school were able to improve their applications with the assistance of their coach
  • 80% of those who applied for financial aid received it during the program

More than the statistics, we are so proud to hear firsthand from our foster youth about the impact that CareerX has had on their lives. One foster youth noted of their experience, “Foster Nation has shown me that, even in the face of adversity, I am not alone, and my dreams are valid. As I express my gratitude for how much I’ve grown this year, I am filled with hope for the future. The lessons learned, the support received, and the resilience developed are invaluable assets that will continue to shape my journey. I look ahead with newfound confidence, knowing that every challenge faced has contributed to the person I am becoming.”

Learning & Growing

Each cohort allows us to learn and grow so that we are offering the best program possible to foster youth. We collect an abundance of data to ensure that our programs are running as effectively as possible and to identify best practices that will improve our individualized approach to supporting foster youth. At the end of each weekly CareerX session, we require that both foster youth and their coaches complete scorecards to measure individual comprehension of lesson materials, perception of coach effectiveness, and lesson enjoyment.

Additionally, our pre-, mid-, and post-program surveys for foster youth participants are designed to measure overall content retention and program effectiveness. We also use a proprietary short assessment called the Net Transformation Score to better understand whether our program has empowered youth to transform their lives for the better. Improvements like increased in-person engagement and a more personalized experience for foster youth have yielded much higher retention rates between Cohort 2.0 and Cohort 3.0. Every piece of data that we collect – from qualitative net transformation scores to quantitative testimonials – adds to our understanding of how best to support transitional-aged foster youth.

Up Next for CareerX

Foster Nation is delighted to announce that we have just welcomed a brand new cohort to the CareerX family – 67 foster youth and 67 new coaches began their 6-month coaching program on March 16th. 20024. This new group of foster youth will receive critical social support and skills-based trainings to enable greater soft and hard skills and core competencies related to career attainment. We are so excited to see how this journey transforms them! As Cohort 4.0 settles in, we are already beginning to lay the groundwork for Cohort 5.0, which we hope to launch in September of 2024.

As we watch how much positive impact the program has had on the lives of foster youth participants, Foster Nation has realized how much greater impact we can have if we begin our mentorship program at a younger age while youth are still in foster care. Foster Nation is excited to begin exploring a pilot program with Los Angeles County public schools to begin supporting youth pre-emancipation with the goal that youth will have the support and tools they need to navigate the world after foster care.

Foster Nation has also been working closely with the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) in Santa Fe Springs and DCFS South County Los Angeles offices. Our partnership with DCFS puts us one step closer to ensuring social workers are providing foster youth who are aging out with adequate resources – which include getting matched with a CareerX coach to help them navigate the transition from foster care to the real world.

Looking ahead, we are enhancing our technological capacity by building out a learning management and program management platform that is capable of hosting sophisticated matching algorithms, housing educational modules and training materials, and serving as a networking hub for participants and alumni. With this new platform, we will be able to improve our matching models for youth to coaches, provide enhanced trauma-informed training to our volunteer coaches, and quickly onboard foster youth and coaches to start the program on a rolling basis.

Interested in learning more about how to participate in CareerX as a coach or foster youth participant? Visit our website for more information about how to join the Foster Nation family!

AuthorFoster Nation