LEAP Partners Help Youth Build Financial Skills on Path to Success

Posted September 12, 2018, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Participants and staff from the LEAP partnership in Maine

Participants and staff from the LEAP partnership in Maine

Many young peo­ple — espe­cial­ly those who’ve expe­ri­enced pub­lic sys­tems and home­less­ness — have missed out on oppor­tu­ni­ties to earn, spend and save their own mon­ey or even receive guid­ance on finan­cial deci­sions. Fill­ing this infor­ma­tion and expe­ri­ence gap is a key com­po­nent of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Learn and Earn to Achieve Poten­tial (LEAP)™ initiative.

LEAP aims to help young peo­ple find and nav­i­gate suc­cess­ful path­ways to school and work after expe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness, fos­ter care or the jus­tice sys­tem. Across the nation today, LEAP part­ners are inte­grat­ing an excit­ing mix of strate­gies to help these youth max­i­mize their earn­ings, set sav­ings goals, build good cred­it and, ulti­mate­ly, estab­lish finan­cial secu­ri­ty and independence.

Some exam­ples of how LEAP part­ners are work­ing to build par­tic­i­pants’ finan­cial skills include:

  • Jobs for Arizona’s Grad­u­ates, which hosts a series of work­shops intro­duc­ing LEAP par­tic­i­pants to bud­get­ing and oth­er finan­cial lit­er­a­cy con­cepts. Par­tic­i­pants maneu­ver var­i­ous real-world sce­nar­ios, includ­ing an online sim­u­la­tion of what it’s like to make ends meet with just $1,000.
  • The Door and Coali­tion for Respon­si­ble Com­mu­ni­ty Devel­op­ment, which offer one-on-one coach­ing ser­vices to help LEAP par­tic­i­pants access col­lege aid. This includes guid­ing youth through the Free Appli­ca­tion for Fed­er­al Stu­dent Aid, review­ing reward require­ments and assist­ing with the appeals process if fee- or grade-relat­ed bar­ri­ers arise.
  • Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Maine and Nebras­ka Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies Foun­da­tion, which help eli­gi­ble LEAP par­tic­i­pants enroll in Oppor­tu­ni­ty Pass­port™, a matched sav­ings pro­gram that com­bines finan­cial lit­er­a­cy train­ing and bank­ing access to help youth tran­si­tion­ing from sys­tems cov­er major expens­es, such as buy­ing a car or pay­ing for hous­ing and school. Both part­ners are cur­rent­ly explor­ing options to enroll more LEAP youth in Oppor­tu­ni­ty Passport.
  • South Bay Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices, which works to ensure that young peo­ple tran­si­tion­ing from con­fine­ment have safe and afford­able hous­ing options. The non­prof­it helps LEAP youth enroll in the Rapid Re-Hous­ing pro­gram, which cov­ers 70 to 100% of a participant’s rent bills annu­al­ly. South Bay also offers onsite tran­si­tion­al hous­ing, which LEAP par­tic­i­pants can access for up to 24 months.

Learn more about LEAP

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