Youth On Their Own supports the high school graduation of homeless, abandoned youth in grades 6-12 who are enrolled in a public, private, charter, or alternative school in Pima County. Students must be homeless per the McKinney-Vento definition and be without the care of a long term parent or long term guardian. To begin the application process, student must contact their YOTO School Liaison (e.g., principal, teacher, counselor, etc.) within their school.
Who YOTO Serves
To be eligible for the program, students must be:
- Enrolled in a Pima County middle or high school, from grades 6 through 12, and be under the age of 22
- Unaccompanied through no fault/choice of their own; not in the physical custody of a parent or long-term legal guardian; and without a stable home
Student Demographics for the Academic School Year 2015-2016*
YOTO student demographics for last year were as follows:
- Students Served: 1,588 (8% increase from 2014-2015 academic year)
- High School Graduates: 214
- Parenthood Status: 13% of students were pregnant or parenting (no change from 2014-2015 academic year)
How YOTO Serves
Youth On Their Own’s program focuses on three components – financial assistance, basic human needs, and guidance – to ensure that homeless youth have the resources necessary to stay in school and graduate.
Student Living Expense Program: Students are eligible to receive a monthly stipend of up to $140 which provides a safety net in managing daily needs. To be eligible to receive a stipend, students must have passing grades in all classes (A’s, B’s, or C’s) and meet school attendance requirements (minimum 80% attendance rate).
Basic Human Needs
- Special Needs Program: Emergency financial assistance may be requested once per semester to assist students with living essentials (e.g., rent, utilities, or medical expenses). To receive funds, students must also complete a financial planning workshop.
- Basic Needs / Mini-Mall: The YOTO “Mini-Mall” provides free basic needs items such as food, clothing, hygiene items, household goods, and school supplies. Students may visit the Mini-Mall in-person or request that items be dropped off at their school. All donations that stock the “Mini-Mall” are provided by the generosity of community members, organizations, and businesses. Learn more here.
- Transportation: Monthly bus passes and bicycles (when available) provide students with transportation to school, work, and healthcare appointments.
YOTO provides students with referrals to other social service and healthcare agencies to ensure that each receives the support required to graduate from high school. The organization has created new and strengthened existing collaborations with local community agencies, organizations, and businesses to provide a wide-range of services including, but not limited to:
- Housing Referrals
- Personal Counseling
- One-on-One Success Coaching
- Medical, Dental and Vision Care
- Refurbished Computers
- Employment Opportunities and Community Involvement Activities
Youth On Their Own also offers a Workforce Readiness Program that helps students prepare for life after high school. Without the stability of a family and the lack of parental guidance, most of the youth in our program cannot imagine what the next day of their life will bring… let alone plan their future career paths. The YOTO Workforce Readiness Department provides guidance, mentoring and training in:
- Pursuing possible educational scholarship opportunities
- Assessing skills to determine possible career paths after high school
- Preparation for job placement, from application to resume to interview
Why YOTO Serves
As a community, our strength lies in our citizens—the people that make up the fiber and quality of our hometown. Homeless, uneducated teens remain in our community. Without a high school diploma and the educational foundation to become self-sustaining, they will stay in Tucson and are at-risk for becoming homeless adults who remain in our community. Statistics show that homelessness generates staggering negative impact, increasing crime and dysfunctional behaviors that a community must deal with. Investing in homeless teens is investing in the future of Tucson, our state, our nation, and our world! Social change truly does begin at home, and the ripple effect of its success can span the globe… starting with one homeless student at a time in Tucson, Arizona!
- Unaccompanied and Homeless Youth: Review in Literature
- Fact Sheet: Homeless Youth
- Fact Sheet: Education of Homeless Children and Youth
- Fact Sheet: Unaccompanied Youth
- Fact Sheet: Educational Barriers for Homeless Youth
- Whatever It Takes: How Twelve Communities Are Reconnecting Out-of-School Youth
*These are the most significant statistics available.