2022 Grants Challenge

CareerX gets foster youth career-ready, self-sufficient

CareerX is a mentorship program that helps foster youth develop life, social and professional skills in order to be self-sufficient after foster care. Youth aging out of the foster care system are at a clear disadvantage when it comes to higher educational attainment and finding a job that pays a realistic living wage with health benefits. Through CareerX, former foster youth will be matched with a career coach to develop the skills, social networks, and confidence they need to enter the workforce and adulthood with greater self sufficiency.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

Other:: Our participating foster youth have been recruited from 27 colleges and universities across Los Angeles County.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

As an organization, Foster Nation has both an institutional and personal understanding of the gap in services and support from foster care to the real world for the thousands of foster youth that age out every year. The average American youth that grows up in a biological family home will either live at home or receive support/resources until the age of 27. In contrast, foster youth without family to lean on are sent into the world at the age of 18 or 21 without the resources or networks needed to thrive. Without proper support, 24% of foster youth graduate high school, only 3% graduate from college, and 20% experience homelessness upon emancipation. These conditions are further exacerbated by COVID-19. The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research reports that 7% of youth ages 18-23 were without shelter, 55% reported food insecurity, and 31% lost access to academic support due to the pandemic. Foster Nation exists to bridge the gap in the transition from foster care.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

The CareerX program will help foster youth achieve personal and professional goals by providing critical social support and skills-based training. In April 2022, the 9-month pilot program launched by matching 40 foster youth one-on-one with trained career coaches that have committed 4 hours per month to help youth learn basic life, social and professional skills — with particular emphasis on relationship building, adulting, financial literacy, career development, health and wellness, and goal planning. Coaches work closely with their mentees, using Foster Nation’s 27 pre-built lesson plans, to identify foster youth’s personal and professional strengths and areas of growth, build a resume, master the job search, and more. All CareerX sessions take place virtually, except for 4 in-person trainings, match event, and celebratory events. The CareerX program also benefits from our partnerships with corporations and community partners, who supplement our curriculum content through special guest lectures, including Grant Thornton, Deloitte, and Junior Achievement SoCal. For example, Junior Achievement SoCal will be hosting a special edition of its Finance Park Simulation to culminate the financial literacy portion of our curriculum, where foster youth will be given a unique “life persona” and led through a simulation that will instill lessons in personal finance and responsible decision-making in a hands-on, interactive experience.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

LA County foster youth experience high rates of unemployment and under employment due to a lack of training and network connections. Our intended immediate impact is to empower foster youth to be self-sufficient by addressing life skills and career readiness. We believe that is critical to solving the aging out problem. LA County has the largest foster youth population in the country and our vision is that we will provide a platform that engages the community to play a part in ensuring that foster youth have equitable opportunities to thrive. The impact of this program empowers LA County to remove barriers to success so that foster youth can focus on what matters most: getting an education and finding a career path in order to lead self-sufficient lives. Our program exemplifies a model of how we can engage the LA community to support foster youth and create a more hopeful Los Angeles for people to move from just surviving to thriving – from “impossible” to “I’m possible.”

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

CareerX will be successful if it empowers foster youth to develop career readiness and self-sufficiency. Our pre-, mid- and post-program surveys measure content retention and program effectiveness. Our evaluation will measure the extent to which foster youth: 1) feel confident in achieving their career goals using CareerX lessons and resources; 2) understand their personal finances (i.e., credit score, ability to file their own taxes); 3) can competently access and organize important documents (i.e. state ID, work identification, voter registration); 4) feel confident in their ability to access public/private benefits; 5) feel equipped to set meaningful and attainable personal/professional goals; and 6) develop soft skills (i.e., time management, responsibility). Success will also be evidenced by job placements and internships secured, improved emotional wellbeing, increased confidence in learning new skills, and increased ability to develop new social networks and opportunities.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 200

Indirect Impact: NaN