Youth On Their Own – or YOTO, as it’s informally called – has been helping youth experiencing homelessness in Pima County graduate from high school since 1986. Founded locally to address the dropout rate of homeless Tucson youth, YOTO continues to serve up to 2,000 young people in our community each year. Moreover, YOTO not only serves local students; it’s also overwhelmingly supported by local Pima County residents!

One pair of such supporters, Jim and Jan Springer, have shared the results of their hard work and good fortune with homeless youth for years. By donating the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from their IRA accounts, Jim and Jan have helped thousands of local youth. Most recently, they helped YOTO build an interactive online student portal that has made it possible for the organization to continue enrolling, monitoring, serving and communicating with homeless youth, even during COVID. Elizabeth Slater, YOTO’s CEO, recognizes this unique contribution: “The student portal is a big investment in YOTO’s future, and it was only possible because of the vision and passion of the Springers. They understand what an important role technology plays in connecting with and supporting vulnerable youth. We’re so grateful for their generosity!”

Jim and Jan’s interest in helping homeless youth graduate goes back many years. Jan, who had a long career in education (including a BS in Education, an MA in Guidance and Counseling, and certificates in Special Education and Supervision) worked with high school students in a career center back in Ohio. Jan met many students on the verge of dropping out who were able to reach their goal of high school graduation with a little help: “I saw that when students had financial, emotional, and academic support, they were able to graduate and become contributing members of society.”

Jan also uses her expertise to serve on YOTO’s Program Committee. Comprised of two YOTO board members and several community members with experience in K-12 education, dropout prevention, and youth development, the committee reviews and assesses YOTO’s current programs and identifies opportunities for improvements. Being so deeply involved in YOTO’s programs has helped Jim and Jan understand how their support leads to student success and inspired them to direct their giving towards less flashy but highly impactful projects like the online student portal: “We became knowledgeable about the programs by sitting down with the CEO and staff to gain a deeper understanding of the impact that YOTO makes on the students. For instance, we feel this portal will address the current challenges due to the increasing number of homeless students.”

Thankfully, Jim and Jan aren’t the only folks who believe in helping homeless youth graduate. Many places of worship, clubs, businesses, foundations, and individuals also call themselves proud members of the YOTO Family! If you’d like to support YOTO youth, there are many ways to help. Like Jim and Jan, you can donate from your pension or IRA Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) making the distribution totally tax free on federal and state taxes. You can also donate through your ROTH IRA.

One way many folks help local youth experiencing homelessness is by making their Arizona Charitable Tax Credit donation to YOTO. The tax credit allows for a dollar-for-dollar credit against your AZ state taxes of up to $400 per individual or $800 per couple filing jointly. It’s a great way to give that is essentially free for you!

If you’d like to learn more about how you can help homeless youth this year, please reach out to YOTO’s Development Director Bethany Neumann at (520) 912 6925 or [email protected], or visit YOTO’s website at!

The online YOTO Student Portal is changing how YOTO serves youth - now and in the future!
An Update from YOTO's CEO Elizabeth Slater