Empower TAY: The Life Literacy Workshop Series
In LA County every year 3,000 young people age out of foster care and are left with minimal benefits and guidance. Outcomes are bleak. Only 50% graduate from high school and 1 in 5 will become un-housed after age 18. Our engaging 'life literacy' curriculum works with cohorts of TAY youth (16-27) providing compelling information on finances, nutrition, social/emotional and relevant topics. Workshops conclude with a free budget offsetting shopping experience where participants choose new clothing and critical essentials to boost self-esteem.
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
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?
The outcomes for youth transitioning out of foster care are dismal. They often lack essential skills and support infrastructure that are necessary to transition into adulthood. We aim to address this by offering critical skills workshops in an engaging cohort model. We partner with organizations that provide mentorship support to TAY and system impacted youth and enroll them in our workshop program. By teaching skills within an existing and high quality support model throughout the course of a year, we provide these young people with the basic tools they need to help transition into adulthood. We also help ensure that they have the clothing and essential items that are required for them to successfully participate in a work or school environment. Our workshop outreach partners ensure that the young people we work with are in a structure that will continue to nurture and support their growth.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
Our workshop program is based on a belief that all young people should be given the basic tools to successfully navigate the transition to adulthood. However, these tools cannot be delivered in a vacuum. They must be delivered by trusted relatable facilitators, in a format that is engaging, relevant, and supportive to build a solid foundation of skills. We provide unique and innovative programming around financial independence, nutritional support, and social/emotional wellness. Each of these pillars is delivered in a manner that is relevant and engaging. For example, rather than offering a dry text book lesson on budgeting and financial planning we work with local entrepreneurs who bring their personal stories to these often challenging topics. Critically, the young people move through the workshops together so they can lean on each, share input and create community. Finally, TAY youth often do not have resources to purchase necessary clothing, technology and other essential items to start their new jobs. Our storefront is fully stocked with brand new clothing and essential items, and we have a dedicated fund to purchase laptops. We offer high quality new items that break socio economic barriers so our young people to start their college journey and jobs feeling comfortable and confident. This impact is both immediate and ongoing. Because our young people come from vetted wrap around service organizations, we know they will always have someone looking out for them.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
For this coming year we are hoping to support at least 100 young people in this program. Our vision is that this is a program that can scale over time, to work on multiple tracks to keep the groups small but serve more youth. Working with high quality facilitators to create best practices and hone the offerings to be the most effective. There is no reason across the county why this model cannot be offered ultimately to all young people as they transition out of foster care. As youth transition out of foster care the lack of family, community and governmental support leave these young people in very precarious positions. Many system impacted people in our prison system and who are currently unhoused, were former foster youth. If we can intervene to provide them with some support infrastructure as they move into adulthood, then we can have a huge impact on homelessness, early pregnancy and incarceration.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
This is an existing program that we launched this past January and is currently offered to approximately 200 youth through three modules. All of the youth who are part of our cohort program participate in an existing mentorship programs for TAY youth. This part of our model is critical as it allows us to track outcomes over time and to have ongoing engagement with the young people we serve. We collect simple surveys to measure understanding and engagement immediately after each workshop but plan to develop a more robust survey to capture detailed metrics . We recently subscribe to a data collection platform that will collect, measure and aggregate our data with uniformity. Additionally, we are working with our partners to assess how youth outcomes related to finances and job stability are impacted by participation in this program.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 100
Indirect Impact: 500