The Annie E. Casey Foundation, in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service's Social Innovation Fund, has announced a three-year, $5.4 million initiative to boost the number of teens and young adults who complete high school and college and help them build a path to fulfilling careers.
Through its Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP) initiative, the foundation aims to increase educational and employment opportunities for young people between the ages of 14 and 25 who are in foster care, the juvenile justice system, or homeless. To that end, over the next three to five years local partnerships in Alaska, Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and New York will adapt a pair of evidence-based models to meet the needs of these youth, including providing support to address the personal life traumas they may have experienced. The models are Jobs for the Future's Back on Track, which prepares young people for postsecondary career paths and supports them during their first year in college, and Jobs for America's Graduates, which helps youth earn a high school credential, develop professional skills, and gain employment or enroll in postsecondary education.
Partners in the effort include the Coalition for Responsible Community Development (Los Angeles), Covenant House Alaska (Anchorage), The Door (New York), Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates (Phoenix), Jobs for Michigan's Graduates (Benton Harbor, Michigan), Nebraska Children and Families Foundation (Lincoln, Nebraska), Project for Pride in Living (Minneapolis), South Bay Community Services (San Diego), the University of Southern Maine (Portland, Maine), and UTEC (Lowell, Massachusetts).
In August 2015, the Social Innovation Fund awarded $4.5 million in support of LEAP and other AECF efforts, which, when matched by Casey and local partners, will result in approximately $15 million invested over three years in efforts to create stronger pathways to education and employment for America's young people — and potentially more if SIF funding is extended to five years. In addition to the support for local partners, the funds will be used to evaluate the impact of their strategies and promote the broader adoption of their models by the public sector.
"LEAP builds on our mission to ensure all young people in the United States are able to realize their full potential," said AECF president and CEO Patrick McCarthy. "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."