Ensuring a successful launch into adult independence and work for foster care and at-risk youth with success skills resources and training.
Together We Can Foundation-Smart Transitions is a 501 (c) 3 charity registered in Virginia. Our mission is to improve outcomes for at-risk youth in transition to independent adult life and the workforce in Hampton Roads and Southeastern Virginia by ensuring that they are better prepared, more connected, and have a greater sense of optimism about their future.
In our 2016-17 operational year:
- We served over 900 youth with direct programming.
- 91% of youth completing our Life-Work Portfolio Course graduated from high school or earned a GED (compared with a high school completion rate of 75% for at-risk youth without intervention).
- 62% of youth completing our Life-Work Portfolio Course went on to pursue post-secondary education or technical training (compared with only 6% post-secondary study or training for at-risk youth without intervention).
- 78% of youth completing our Life-Work Portfolio Course found employment (compared with 16% of at-risk youth without intervention).
- More on Outcomes
Who We Serve
- Foster Youth
- Court Involved Youth
- Homeless Youth
- Economically Disadvantaged Youth
- Emotionally Challenged Youth
- Youth Struggling with the Transition to Adulthood
And the educators, mentors, parents, agencies, social workers, parole officers, and youth program specialists that work with these youth.
What We Do
We are the premiere provider of success skills classes and resources for young adults in Hampton Roads. We specialize in working with at-risk populations. We partner with local organizations that serve youth by providing youth classes, resources, and staff training in areas such as:
- Career identification and alignment
- Effectively building and presenting a personal brand
- Financial planning and money management for independence
- Interviewing skills and the secrets of getting hired
- Workforce development soft skills
- Leadership and self-confidence
You can click on the images below to learn more about our programs and resources and how to access them.
Life-Work Portfolio Course
The Smart Transitions Life-Work Portfolio Course encourages young people through discussion and guided exercises to explore career options and develop realistic career plans. It also guides them through the process of creating resumes and professional presentation portfolios while practicing interviewing skills and personal branding. Youth develop Life-work plans and learn the kinds of skills that help job seekers make a positive impression and land a job. Life-Work Portfolio Course.
New for 2018 is our Find Work Mobile App and ID. Now, in addition to creating a personal presentation portfolio, youth who complete our program receive a special invitation to download and activate a mobile app (IOS and Android) which not only provides a mobile-based ID card as proof of having completed the program, but a constantly updated selection of paid, volunteer, and internship opportunities from Hampton Roads businesses willing to provide preferential hiring consideration to graduates of our programs.
Smart Transitions Guides
Smart Transitions Guides and Workbooks are youth-centric publications that focus on better preparation for adult life and the workforce through self-awareness and planning. These materials are designed for youth working alone, with a mentor or coach, or in small groups to explore what it means to become an adult in ways that are proactive and ensure a successful transition to the adult world of work.
Equine Youth Challenge
The Equine Youth Challenge is a program in which youth learn to work with, care for, and ride horses. Recent studies and our own successes suggest a powerful correlation between youth working with horses and their capacity to make better choices with more self-confidence for a more successful transition to adulthood. Together We Can Foundation was an early sponsor of this program in Smithfield, Virginia and now provides youth scholarships to the program.
"1 in 7 youth in Hampton Roads will not make a successful transition to adult life and the workforce."
The Challenge: Disconnected Youth
There are currently over 35,000 young people across Hampton Roads, Virginia, between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor in school. They are not aging into productive adult life and the workforce.
This phenomenon has come to be called "Youth Disconnection." These are not youth that are just struggling to transition effectively into adult life (that's about another 35,000 youth). These are the youth who are not making it at all. They are aging right into unemployment, homelessness, and possibly even incarceration. They experience depression, substance abuse, and exploitation at a far higher rate than their peers. This is a moral issue and a social justice issue, but it is also an economic issue for Hampton Roads. Each disconnected youth imposes an immediate taxpayer burden of $13,900 and an immediate social services burden of $37,450 per year. Combined, that means that for each year that a single youth is disconnected, it's costing municipalities over $51,000.
Based on a recent report from the Social Science Research Council titled "Zeroing In On Place and Race: Youth Disconnection in America's Cities," we know that these youth tend to come from disadvantaged neighborhoods where they grow up without many options or role models for successful adult behavior. Beyond neighborhoods, they share risk factors in childhood and adolescence such as being in foster care, involvement with the courts or juvenile justice system, family poverty or homelessness, psychological or developmental challenges, teen pregnancy, and academic challenges or failure to graduate from high school. Hampton Roads is 45th out of 98 metropolitan areas studied for disconnected youth as a percentage of overall youth population.
The Together We Can Foundation began in 2008 with a focus on helping teens in foster care avoid disconnection, but after several years of successful outcomes with foster care teens, we expanded our mission and our reach to serve youth with additional risk factors. Our Smart Transitions initiative reaches over 700 youth each year with direct services and thousands of area youth through the distribution of our Smart Transitions Guides and Workbooks and the youth program staff training we provide. Youth who complete one of our success skills classes are 9 times more likely to finish high school and pursue post secondary education or training and 4.5 times more likely to find employment. Not only are we making a difference in the lives of young people in Hampton Roads, but we are working to support other agencies in their efforts to guarantee "smarter transitions" for the youth they serve.
But, none of this would be possible without donors like you.