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First Place for Youth Connects 177 Transition-Age Foster Youth to Careers


First Place for Youth is proud to share progress made in connecting transition-age foster youth to high-quality careers that will improve their economic independence through our Steps to Success program and evidence-based Earn and Learn Model. Through strategic partnerships with employers in high-growth sectors such as construction, healthcare, and information technology, First Place equips youth to enter the workforce with a competitive edge in the labor market, and the skills needed to advance towards living-wage careers. Our program provides individualized education and employment support, starting with career coaching to help youth establish the connection between education, employment and lifetime earning potential, and then supports them in selecting, enrolling, and completing pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships, and other types of earn-and-learn opportunities.

During the reporting period from October 2023 – March 2024, First Place implemented our Earn and Learn Model in Los Angeles County. To date, we have served 177 youth, who have achieved the following positive outcomes:

  • Objective: 80% of youth will receive or pursue their high school diploma or GED
  • Progress to date: 82% of youth are enrolled, making progress or received their HSD/GED
  • Objective: 80% of college-eligible youth will enroll in postsecondary education
  • Progress to date: 66% of college eligible youth are in active postsecondary education enrollments
  • Objective: 20% of youth will enroll in an apprenticeship program
  • Progress to date: 28% of career ready youth enrolled in an apprenticeship during their time in program
  • Objective: 50% of youth will make progress in their postsecondary education
  • Progress to date: 49% of youth made significant progress in postsecondary education

First Place prioritizes data-informed decision making to ensure our programming is effective in helping youth achieve positive outcomes around education, employment, housing, and healthy living. Our approach is grounded in measuring outcomes and impact, not simply services provided. At the end of the grant period, our Evaluation + Learning team will use our customized performance management tools to evaluate the efficacy of these specific interventions, determine the best approach for each youth, and make real-time improvements to our programs.

We are now looking to better understand apprenticeship engagement, progression, and completion. A critical factor to achieve this is continuously consulting program participants to learn what they need to succeed and adjusting our programming accordingly. Individualized support and relationships with trusted adults are a major theme through many of our early lessons:

  • Youth complete their programs at higher rates after participating in our career coaching, which works to strengthen youth’s connection between education, career-related training, employment experience, and soft-skills development. Coaching is recommended until youth can articulate differences in career options, identify a career focus, and determine an option that is a good fit for them.
  • Supportive relationships with trusted adults are crucial to youth pursuing postsecondary education and apprenticeship. Program staff provide weekly case management to promote youth program retention and completion, which has proven to increase positive youth outcomes such as maintaining stable housing and obtaining employment.
  • Connecting youth with mentors has reduced attrition by promoting a culture of belonging in programs. Youth connected to mentors are supported in setting and achieving goals and enabled to pursue professional development that recognizes their past and humanity.

A major challenge that First Place is working on addressing is youth having reliable access to resources that allow them to succeed in their program. This includes public transportation, childcare, libraries (for quiet places to study), etc. For example, Jacky, one of our program participants, is attending school full-time in Pasadena, but must travel to Santa Monica for her apprenticeship program. Because this commute can be a time and cost burden that negatively impacts youth, First Place provides transportation stipends to remove this financial barrier and help Jacky stay focused on completing her program and achieving her goals. Earn and Learn programs should be selected based on not only interest and transferable skills, but location, accessibility, etc. to ensure that our youth can receive the support they need to succeed.

Over the next six months of implementation, First Place will continue to prepare youth for and connect them to high quality earn and learn opportunities. Additionally, we are starting to plan the expansion of our Earn and Learn Model to inform a larger plan with an appendix of workforce development resources. Our goal at this stage is to develop critical partnerships in Los Angeles within the high-growth sectors we’ve researched. We will eventually share our findings with other stakeholders, demonstrating our process from start to finish, thereby outlining a roadmap to remove barriers and increase engagement of transition-age youth in workforce services and programming.

AuthorFirst Place for Youth