2023 Grants Challenge

Empower Former Foster Youth to Thrive

Extraordinary Families' UP4Youth program supports young adults who have aged out of the foster care system as they transition into adulthood through one-on-one case management and mentorship. UP4Youth staff and trained adult mentors help youth obtain vital resources, advance in education, build employment skills, and gain work experience to achieve their potential.


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

City of Los Angeles

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

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

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

All children deserve a safe and loving home with the ability to thrive. For those youth who have experienced complex trauma culminating in separation from their parents and their home, that opportunity is cut short. Last year in LA County, almost 1,500 youth aged out of foster care, without being reunified or adopted. These youth have formidable obstacles for their transition to adulthood, and systemic racism can compound their challenges. Statistically, former foster youth, by age 21, may experience homelessness (31%), are arrested (51%) or incarcerated (16%), and many young women have a child of their own (41%). These grim statistics are a glimpse into some of the challenges faced by former foster youth - but these challenges do not define them. These youth are not "troubled" or "damaged" and are in no way responsible for their trauma. They seek stability, love, and success, and they have the same innate potential for achievement as any one of their non-foster peers.

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

A grant from LA2050 would provide significant support to the UP4Youth Program and offer primary funding for the expansion of the staff. UP4Youth is based on four pillars: resource coordination, education planning and support, employment services, and mentorship. Resource Coordination UP4Youth staff provide one-on-one case management based on each youth's unique history, challenges, and goals. A comprehensive assessment of each youth's needs serves as the guiding document for the foundation of all future work. The team connects youth to housing, food, clothing, transportation, healthcare, childcare, and more. Education Planning and Support The team assists with educational goals - whether completing high school, accessing GED classes, or planning for continuing education. Youth are encouraged to recognize their potential and follow career aspirations. Employment Services ExtraFam helps youth attain a sustainable life by partnering with employment support agencies and offering regular workshops that focus on soft skills and practical knowledge. ExtraFam also recently completed the first year of a two-year initiative to enhance the program through paid internships. Mentorship ExtraFam trains caring mentors who help youth obtain vital resources, develop skills, and advance toward their goals. These compassionate adults help them develop emotional resources, make professional connections, and build positive habits to ensure sustainable, healthy progress.

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

During the pandemic, the UP4Youth team focused on reaching as many young individuals in crisis as possible, as the need was tremendous. However, ExtraFam recognizes that due to the traumas that most of these youth have experienced, building thriving lives cannot be accomplished through short-term solutions. The addition of a second UP4Youth staff member will provide opportunities to build trust with youth and ensure they are matched with responsive, stable adult mentors. Only true partnerships rooted in mutual respect and consistency can result in long-term success. The UP4Youth team will support and empower each youth as they progressively develop self-sufficiency, confidence, and realize their dreams. Without support, these promising young people must reckon with adverse social, emotional, and economic consequences through no fault of their own. UP4Youth is integral to empowering traumatized youth in LA and stopping intergenerational cycles of poverty, violence, and exploitation.

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

The success of the UP4Youth program is measured using both quantitative and qualitative metrics. The intake process includes a self-assessment of each youth's needs, scored with ExtraFam's Self-Sufficiency Matrix, as well as the development of a personalized Individual Success Plan that serves as the guiding document for the foundation of all future work. Youth set three self-identified goals, putting them-rather than the system-in the driver's seat of their lives, often for the very first time. During the grant period, 60-75 TAY will participate in the UP4Youth Program and at least 40% will be matched with a trained adult mentor. A grant will allow staff to design accurate tools for defining and measuring positive advancements toward their education and employment goals and access to food, shelter, and mental health support.

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

Direct Impact: 75

Indirect Impact: 500