Grant Program Connects Homeless Youth to Higher Education and Employment

On June 14th, Youth On Their Own (YOTO) launched a new summer program called JAG Works, designed to provide career and college readiness programming to homeless and at-risk youth in Pima County. Through the JAG Works model, youth work to achieve improvement in academic ability, graduate from high school, complete work readiness competencies, and transition into career-focused employment and/or post-secondary education. The program combines six weeks of summer curriculum with continuous skills training, leadership development, and interactive tours at local worksites and college campuses throughout high school career. Upon graduation, one year of follow-up services is provided to support students successfully transitioning into “adult life.”

This initiative is in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates. Through this new program, YOTO hopes to identify effective strategies for helping homeless and at-risk young adults to overcome challenges, graduate, and successfully transition into further work and education.

Jacklyn Vaughan-Chaldy, YOTO’s Workforce Readiness Coordinator and JAG Works supervisor, is excited for the opportunities that the program will provide to participants. “This program creates a positive space for these youth to explore and discover what their future careers can be and to take steps to achieve that future while growing as leaders. JAG Works provides students with skillsets that parents would typically teach them, but for the youth in our program, that isn’t really an option. They need programs like this.”

According to Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, this initiative will ensure that all young people are able to realize their full potential. “Helping youth and young adults navigate some of the roadblocks to adulthood contributes to their individual success and strengths our country’s workforce, our economy, and our communities.”

The Atlantic—The Complicated Task of Identifying Homeless Students
The Washington Post—These are the faces of America’s growing youth homeless population