Ending the foster care to homelessness pipeline.
The RightWay Foundation disrupts the generational cycle of trauma and poverty for foster youth in LA County. We partner with transition-age foster youth (ages 18-26+, 90% Black, 9% Latina/o/x) to build stable, self-sufficient adulthoods, grounded in mental health treatment and solidified through employment and dedicated housing. Side by side with our youth, we are countering the corrosive effects of the housing crisis and ending the pipeline from foster care to unemployment, homelessness, and incarceration.
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?
San Gabriel Valley
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?
System-impacted youth account for 60% of unhoused youth in LA. The risk of experiencing homelessness is 83% higher for Black youth and 33% higher for Latina/o/x youth than for white youth. In 2022's Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, 35% of unsheltered adults had experienced the foster care or juvenile justice systems (15,612 individuals). RightWay believes that with robust financial and emotional support, ample resources, and consistent community, foster youth can break down barriers to stability. RightWay supports current/former foster youth from all sides: dedicated housing, individual and group mental health services, job readiness and placement, community building, mentoring, financial literacy, life skills, and everything in between. Whether it's taking them to get their drivers' license, providing grocery gift cards, or paying the security deposit for an apartment, RightWay takes a comprehensive, no-holds-barred approach to countering the failures of the foster care system.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
RightWay seeks to end the foster care to homelessness pipeline through our comprehensive supportive housing program and job readiness program. RightWay's housing program, Operation Housing First, identifies unhoused emancipated foster youth and provides them immediate housing in their own apartment or shared home. RightWay will expand our housing program to 60 former foster youth who are unable to afford housing on their own. Through our program, RightWay signs the Master Lease of scattered apartment sites and rents well-appointed homes for shared living, provides first and last month's rent, and subsidizes a portion of rent for one year while providing youth with intensive mental health support, employment services, and case management. RightWay assists in fully furnishing each apartment to create a warm and welcoming home, while ensuring all basic needs are met. With guidance from financial coaches, youth learn to budget and save the portion of rent that RightWay covers. All program participants receive foundational resources to build financial independence and emotional stability. Each becomes fully immersed in RightWay's trauma-informed job-readiness program Operation Emancipation, designed to target areas critical to foster youths' ability to retain employment and progress toward self-sufficiency. Participants have direct access to trainings, stipends, employment opportunities, and paid internships to provide meaningful work experience and build financial stability.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
This year, RightWay will deepen the impact of our supportive housing program. With a clear view of the barriers keeping foster youth from building financial independence, we will strengthen our housing model with increased mental health services, financial accountability and healthy habits coaching, career building and educational navigation, and life skills. RightWay will be able to offer a replicable model for LA and beyond. If the foster care to homelessness pipeline is stopped, a significant portion of unhoused individuals will never reach the streets in the first place. RightWay has the chance to be an example for how LA can advance economic mobility for system-impacted youth and scale innovative resource delivery. LA is at a critical inflection point. The system could go on failing our kids, or it could transform toward holistic approaches that build relationships instead of sever them, support families instead of break them, and propel children instead of impede them.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Of the youth we serve, over 35% are homeless when they enter our program; 85% are housing insecure. Over 90% are unemployed when they enter our program. 40% are criminal/juvenile justice system-impacted. All experienced trauma stemming from their family of origin and the foster care system. For youth who participated in our programs last year, 74% secured and retained employment/paid-internship. 86% have stable housing. 30% are enrolled in college. 94% report an increase in social support and a decrease in social isolation. 85% receiving mental health services report progress toward identified treatment goals. 80% experience a decrease in symptoms and behaviors related to their mental health diagnoses. 85% return for supportive services. The unsolicited feedback we receive from foster youth and partner agencies is that our approach is improving outcomes and providing a new level of support. Our model receives affirmation in the number of requests for partnership and referrals.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 60
Indirect Impact: 4,500