With an Employment First Approach, Homeless Youth Find their Professional Passions & Meet their Goals
By Leiha Edmonds, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
On any given night, over 200 unaccompanied children and youth experience homelessness in Washington, D.C., and it’s likely that hundreds more are doubled up, couch surfing, or living in other unstable housing situations that puts them at risk of homelessness. Yet when Friendship Place, a leading D.C.-based homeless services organization, scanned the District’s available services, they realized youth and young people up to the age of 30 often weren’t getting all the help they needed to exit homelessness. Many of these young people also weren’t working or in school, and it was clear that helping these opportunity youth succeed in employment would play a key role in preventing and ending their homelessness. That’s why Friendship Place created its Before Thirty program, which works with youth and young adults experiencing or at risk of homelessness to help them get and keep jobs, move into stable housing, and meet their goals. This month, we chatted with Before Thirty’s Youth and Young Adults Specialist, Tiffini Jackson, about the importance of an “Employment First” approach for homeless jobseekers, the hidden face of youth homelessness, and helping youth find their professional passions.
By Caitlin C. Schnur, Coordinator, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
In preparation for an upcoming best practice guide on employment services for youth, we’ve spent the past few weeks in conversation with practitioners and program administrators in the field to gather and lift up their expertise in helping at-risk young job seekers succeed in employment. Recently, we sat down with Jamie Fountain, Associate Director of Workforce Development at Larkin Street Youth Services. Located in San Francisco, Larkin Street got its start in the 1980s serving bagged lunches to youth experiencing homelessness in San Francisco’s Polk Gulch neighborhood. Today, Larkin Street has 25 programs across 14 program sites and offers youth experiencing and at-risk of homelessness a comprehensive set of services including housing, medical care, and education and employment services via Larkin’s Hire Up program. While in Hire Up, youth can receive job readiness training, learn computer and technology skills, earn wages as part of supervised, entry-level work crew, and participate in paid internships with local businesses and organizations.
Larkin Street recognizes that youth’s success in employment is critical to its mission to “help kids get off the street for good.” In this conversation, Jamie talks about how “failure” yields innovation, the power of supportive relationships in helping youth get and keep jobs, and why it’s important to celebrate success along the journey to sustainable employment.
By David T. Applegate, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
In July 2013, the Colorado state legislature passed the Colorado Careers Act (HB13-1004) establishing ReHire Colorado – an innovative and forward-thinking transitional employment program to be administered by the Colorado Department of Human Services. Using transitional jobs as the central mechanism, ReHire aims to stimulate the local economy and address unemployment by putting unemployed Coloradans back on the path to work with wage paid work with local employers. In order to implement the program, the state awarded contracts to five local service providers – one being the Larimer County Workforce Center in Northern Colorado.
The Workforce Center serves both jobseekers and businesses through an array of training, educational, and internship programs. Adam Crowe, the Business Development Manager at the Workforce Center, reminds us that “work is such a key component of who we are as humans that I think it is easy to forget about at times.”
Recently, the NTJN had the chance to talk with Adam about the Workforce Center’s success in using transitional employment and strong relationships with employer partners in attacking poverty and unemployment in Northern Colorado.
By Jonathan Philipp, Research and Policy Assistant, National Transitional Jobs Network
In honor of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, we decided to focus our member spotlight this month on an organization that is tackling both these issues at the same time!
Since its founding in 1989, D.C. Central Kitchen has used food as a tool to change lives. Every day they make over 5,000 meals which get delivered to 100 different homeless shelters, transitional homes, and nonprofit organizations at little or no cost. They aren’t just providing food though, D.C. Central Kitchen also directly addresses the root cause of hunger: unemployment. Read More…