New $5 Million Grant Program Will Connect Youth Facing Obstacles to Higher Education and Employment

Posted February 25, 2016, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Blog newgrantwillconnectyouthtohigheredandemployment 2016

Social Inno­va­tion Fund Ini­tia­tive to Reach Thou­sands Through Orga­ni­za­tions in Nine States

In part­ner­ship with the Cor­po­ra­tion for Nation­al and Com­mu­ni­ty Service’s Social Inno­va­tion Fund, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion announced today that it plans to award $5.4 mil­lion in grants over the next three years to help more teens and young adults com­plete high school and post­sec­ondary edu­ca­tion and build paths to careers.

The Foundation’s new Learn and Earn to Achieve Poten­tial (LEAP)™ ini­tia­tive aims to increase edu­ca­tion­al and employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for youth and young adults ages 14 to 25 who are in fos­ter care or involved in the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem, or who are home­less. These young peo­ple often face some of the great­est chal­lenges to suc­cess in adult­hood. Over the next three to five years, 10 local part­ner­ships in Alas­ka, Ari­zona, Cal­i­for­nia, Maine, Mass­a­chu­setts, Michi­gan, Min­neso­ta, Nebras­ka and New York will adapt two evi­dence-based mod­els to meet the needs of these youth, includ­ing sup­port to address the trau­ma they may have expe­ri­enced in their lives.

One of these mod­els, Jobs for the Future’s Back on Track, pre­pares young peo­ple for post­sec­ondary career path­ways and sup­ports them dur­ing their first year in col­lege. The oth­er, Jobs for America’s Grad­u­ates (JAG), helps youth earn a high school cre­den­tial, devel­op pro­fes­sion­al skills and gain employ­ment or enroll in post­sec­ondary edu­ca­tion. Through LEAP, the Foun­da­tion hopes to iden­ti­fy effec­tive strate­gies for help­ing youth and young adults over­come chal­lenges and suc­ceed in school and at work.

LEAP builds on our mis­sion to ensure all young peo­ple in the Unit­ed States are able to real­ize their full poten­tial,” said Patrick McCarthy, the Foundation’s pres­i­dent and CEO. Help­ing youth and young adults nav­i­gate some of the road­blocks to adult­hood con­tributes to their indi­vid­ual suc­cess and strength­ens our country’s work­force, our econ­o­my and our communities.

America’s youth employ­ment rate is at a his­tor­i­cal­ly low lev­el, and mil­lions of teens and young adults are nei­ther in school nor work­ing. For young peo­ple who have expe­ri­enced fos­ter care, the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem or home­less­ness, the hur­dles to employ­ment are even greater. Youth tran­si­tion­ing from fos­ter care, for exam­ple, are less like­ly to find and keep sta­ble jobs and are more like­ly to earn less, even into adult­hood. And com­pared to their peers in the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion, only a frac­tion com­plete a post­sec­ondary degree, a near must for advanc­ing in today’s job mar­ket. LEAP aims to change that tra­jec­to­ry and equip young peo­ple with the edu­ca­tion and skills they need to achieve finan­cial stability.

LEAP is made pos­si­ble in part through a $4.5 mil­lion grant the Foun­da­tion received in August 2015 from the Social Inno­va­tion Fund, a pro­gram of the Cor­po­ra­tion for Nation­al and Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vice, the fed­er­al agency for vol­un­teer­ing and ser­vice pro­grams. The Social Inno­va­tion Fund fos­ters pub­lic and pri­vate col­lab­o­ra­tions to eval­u­ate and grow inno­v­a­tive com­mu­ni­ty-based solu­tions that work. In just five years, the Social Inno­va­tion Fund and its pri­vate-sec­tor part­ners have invest­ed more than $876 mil­lion in com­pelling com­mu­ni­ty solu­tions. As a result of $295 mil­lion in fed­er­al grants and more than $581 mil­lion in non­fed­er­al match com­mit­ments, the Social Inno­va­tion Fund has made grants to 39 grant-mak­ing insti­tu­tions and 353 non­prof­its work­ing in 40 states and the Dis­trict of Columbia.

We are eager and excit­ed to announce these grant awards,” said Dami­an Thor­man, direc­tor of the Social Inno­va­tion Fund. The fund­ing we pro­vide will not only cre­ate new oppor­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple but fos­ter sta­bil­i­ty — and many times, hope — for the first time.”

The Social Inno­va­tion Fund grant, com­bined with req­ui­site match­ing funds from Casey and the local part­ner­ships, will ulti­mate­ly result in about $15 mil­lion invest­ed over three years to cre­ate stronger path­ways to edu­ca­tion and employ­ment for America’s youth — with the poten­tial for even more if fund­ing extends to five years. In addi­tion to the awards to the local part­ner­ships, these funds will go toward eval­u­at­ing the impact of the part­ner­ships’ strate­gies, as well as pro­mot­ing the broad­er adop­tion of these mod­els among pub­lic sys­tems so that even more youth and young adults through­out the nation can reach their full potential.

The 10 par­tic­i­pat­ing partnerships:

  • Coali­tion for Respon­si­ble Com­mu­ni­ty Devel­op­ment (Los Ange­les) will apply the JAG and Back on Track mod­els to help youth in and tran­si­tion­ing from fos­ter care earn their high school diplo­ma or GED, enter the job mar­ket or suc­cess­ful­ly move into post­sec­ondary edu­ca­tion. The orga­ni­za­tion and its part­ners will focus on young peo­ple in South and East Los Ange­les, where almost half of youth in fos­ter care have not com­plet­ed high school.
     
  • Covenant House Alas­ka (Anchor­age) will use JAG’s mod­el geared toward youth who are not in school to pro­vide men­tor­ing, coach­ing and com­mu­ni­ty-based learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to fos­ter career readi­ness among Anchor­age and rur­al Alaskan youth involved in the child wel­fare and juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems, or who are homeless.
     
  • The Door (New York) will use the Back on Track mod­el to bol­ster its exist­ing col­lege-access and employ­ment and train­ing pro­grams at its Low­er Man­hat­tan and Bronx loca­tions, for New York City youth involved in the child wel­fare or juve­nile jus­tice system.
     
  • Jobs for Arizona’s Grad­u­ates (Phoenix) will team up with a local dropout pre­ven­tion pro­gram to expand the reach of its JAG pro­gram to young peo­ple who are involved in the child wel­fare or juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem, or who are home­less, in Phoenix and Tucson.
     
  • Jobs for Michigan’s Grad­u­ates (Ben­ton Har­bor, Michi­gan) will focus on youth who are involved in the child wel­fare or juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems, or who are home­less, in Ben­ton Har­bor, Detroit and Flint. The orga­ni­za­tion and its part­ners will expand an estab­lished JAG mod­el that helps young peo­ple who are not in school earn their high school diplo­ma or GED, find a job or enroll in post­sec­ondary edu­ca­tion or a train­ing program.
     
  • Nebras­ka Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies Foun­da­tion (Lin­coln, Nebras­ka) will pro­vide an array of sup­port ser­vices to Lin­coln and Oma­ha youth in fos­ter care to suc­cess­ful­ly move into post­sec­ondary edu­ca­tion, using the Back on Track model.
     
  • Project for Pride in Liv­ing (Min­neapo­lis) will apply JAG’s mod­el in sev­en of Min­neapo­lis Pub­lic Schools’ alter­na­tive schools, focus­ing on youth involved in the fos­ter care and juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems in Hen­nepin Coun­ty. The orga­ni­za­tion and its part­ners will inte­grate sev­er­al new­ly launched pro­grams to more effec­tive­ly help young peo­ple earn a high school diplo­ma, enter the job mar­ket or move into post­sec­ondary education.
     
  • South Bay Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices (San Diego) will weave Back on Track’s prepa­ra­tion and first-year sup­port for post­sec­ondary edu­ca­tion into its pro­gram­ming focused on edu­ca­tion and employ­ment for San Diego Coun­ty youth exit­ing fos­ter care or being released from juve­nile jus­tice facilities.
     
  • Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Maine (Port­land, Maine) will use the JAG and Back on Track mod­els to pro­vide sup­port for com­plet­ing high school and prepar­ing for post­sec­ondary edu­ca­tion and employ­ment for Maine youth tran­si­tion­ing from fos­ter care.
     
  • UTEC (Low­ell, Mass­a­chu­setts) will use JAG’s mod­el to build on its GED pro­gram for youth in the juve­nile and adult jus­tice sys­tem and incor­po­rate a focus on readi­ness for work and post­sec­ondary education.

LEAP is part of the Foundation’s grow­ing focus on youth and young adults and is one of sev­er­al efforts to fos­ter the suc­cess of America’s young peo­ple at school and work. Last year, Casey also launched Gen­er­a­tion Work, an ini­tia­tive to increase job oppor­tu­ni­ties for young adults ages 1829 in five cities.

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