Homelessness is steadily increasing in the nation’s capital. Each year there are fewer affordable places to live, while the amount of safe, decent shelter for young people and working families does not keep pace with demand. Sasha Bruce Youthwork (SBY) operates multiple residential facilities, all of which offer counseling and classes that can lead young people back to a more stable and supportive family situation. Despite these important “safety net” services, homeless and disconnected youth require intensive educational and employment preparation services if they are to progress to independence and self-sufficiency.
SBY’s educational enrichment and workforce preparation services traditionally have utilized a cohort model of skills acquisition for young people recruited throughout the District. Our experience with this population has allowed us to see that a lack of post-secondary planning–and a lack of focused, individualized, mentoring support–compromises their ability to sustain housing stability and career progress.
To address these challenges, SBY envisions an innovative, new program to assist youth and young adults in making a smooth transition from homelessness to postsecondary education or a certification program, which will contribute to sustained housing security. One component of this project will be intensive educational support for completion of the GED exam. We also will use verbal, written and action-based activities to ensure that youth, upon completion of the program, are proficient in the following areas of employability: preparing resumes and cover letters; preparing reference sheets; the importance of punctuality and consistent attendance; internet job searching; informational and formal interviewing; presenting appropriate appearance; establishing good interpersonal skills; and completing tasks effectively and efficiently.
Education and career preparation are core elements of our agency’s approach to working with homeless youth and their family members. With the support of philanthropic investors, we will offer this new approach to career- and education-focused mentoring and practical assistance at our heavily-utilized Homeless Youth Drop-in Center.