First Place for Youth Gets $1 Million to Expand Services for L.A.’s Foster Youth

First Place for Youth holds a press conference and job fair on the Art + Practice campus to celebrate a $1 million grant from United Airlines in Leimert Park, Los Angeles on July 13. Photo by Josiah Green.

First Place for Youth, an Oakland-based nonprofit that helps older foster teens and young adults transition into adulthood, has been awarded a $1 million grant from United Airlines to expand their services in the Los Angeles area.

First Place for Youth serves nearly 2,000 teens and young adults in California each year as they age out of foster care, providing housing, support services, and education and employment counseling. The statistical outcomes for foster youth in this time of life are grim — they are far more likely than their peers to struggle with homelessness, poverty and mental health issues — so these kinds of supports can be transformational.

“With this investment, First Place will support more than 650 young people who grew up in foster care, helping them move into their first apartment, make progress in school, and secure jobs that lead to living-wage careers,” said Hellen Hong, interim CEO at First Place for Youth in a press release. “We believe that all young people deserve the opportunity to achieve their full potential in life.”

United Airlines donates $1 million dollars to First Place for Youth. Photo by Josiah Green.

The organization, which works with current and former foster youth ages 16 to 24, uses a career-focused model that pairs participants with an education and employment specialist as well as a youth advocate who helps them develop healthy living skills and remove barriers to education and employment.

Participants receive rent-free shared housing for the duration of the program to allow them to focus on their education and employment goals from a place of stability.

The new funding, dispersed over four years, will allow First Place to provide affordable housing, case management and counseling to more than 650 transition-age foster youth in L.A. who are experiencing homelessness and unstable living situations.

“Los Angeles County is home to one-third of California’s foster youth and we are proud to help First Place target growth in high-needs areas of the community, like South Los Angeles,” said United’s President of California Janet Lamkin.

First Place has been serving foster youth in Los Angeles since 2010. Last year, working with an operating budget of just over $5.5 million, they housed 198 youth in the county — an increase of 66 percent from three years prior, according to Claudia Miller, the organization’s vice president of advancement.

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