YOTO’s chief focus is education, specifically a high school diploma, as a tool to break the cycle of poverty. Arizona currently has the 2nd worst graduation rate among the 50 US states (NCES, 2018-2019 school year data) and over 5,600 homeless students have been identified in Pima County (Arizona Department of Education, 2014). Graduation rates for youth experiencing homelessness are extremely low due to the stress they face with their daily circumstances. Without the stability of a home and support of a family, youth experiencing homelessness face unique barriers to education such as the inability to meet school enrollment requirements, high mobility/instability, lack of transportation, poor health, fatigue, and hunger. When these challenges are not addressed, youth are unable to enroll in or attend school, preventing them from obtaining the education that is both their legal right and their best hope for escaping poverty.
Youth On Their Own (YOTO) supports the high school graduation and continued success of youth experiencing homelessness in Pima County. We strive to eliminate barriers to education and empower housing insecure youth in our community to stay in school. For over 35 years, we have supported this unique demographic by providing financial assistance, basic human needs, guidance, and more. With the help of our amazing YOTO Family, YOTO has supported over 20,000 local youth in their journeys toward high school graduation!