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