A certain amount of success in life comes down to luck and where and to whom you were born, but most successful people will also credit the knowledge they've acquired, the skills they've developed, and the experiences they've had. At risk youth may not have gotten the luck of the draw that some if us had, but that doesn't mean we can't try to offset that with the kind of knowledge, skills, and experiences that promote success. This is where Together We Can—Smart Transitions comes into play.

Social research and scientific studies of early brain development suggested that timely intervention in early childhood education would have a significant impact on a youth's progress through primary school and readiness for secondary school and higher learning. This was based on our understanding of a critical point in brain development from birth to around five years of age. Recent brain research indicates that far from being complete at age five, a young person's brain experiences another significant development growth spurt between puberty and the age of twenty-four. This is the period in which the adult brain develops, and, just like in early childhood, if certain developmental experiences are missed, the development of a healthy and functional adult brain would be in jeopardy.

In Hampton Roads, the awareness of the critical period of brain development associated with early childhood galvanized the community and was adopted as an initiative known as Smart Beginnings. What the Together We Can Foundation is suggesting is a parallel initiative: Smart Transitions—to better address the needs of disconnected youth and youth at-risk of disconnection across Hampton Roads.

As a single agency we focus on the kind of intervention we do best: providing outstanding success skills classes and resource materials tailored to the needs of at-risk youth. These classes and resource materials are designed by a staff with years of curriculum development and educational and training experience working with at-risk teen populations. We focus on critical areas of adult work-life success:

  • career identification and alignment;
  • personal presentation and interviewing skills;
  • financial planning and real-world money management;
  • problem solving and relationship building skills; and
  • workforce readiness soft skills.

As a community partner, we work with community agencies serving at-risk youth populations. We partner with public schools, colleges, human services agencies, redevelopment and housing authorities, juvenile justice systems, and non profit organizations serving youth. We are also committed to working on big-picture advocacy and having a clear understanding of the scope of the problem of disconnection across Hampton Roads, as well as clearly defining success own the transition to adulthood.

Ultimately, we believe that every youth is an opportunity youth and every opportunity youth holds a piece of our future as a community.





TWC Smart Transitions Growth:

Total Youth Served (by year)

Because of community support from individuals donors, municipalities, foundations and community organizations, we've gone from serving less than 50 youth per year to serving over 900 with high-impact, direct service (our staff providing the training and monitoring outcomes). 

In addition we've distributed nearly 20,000 Smart Transitions Guides to youth across Hampton Roads. We've also provided training for youth program staff, educators, and mentors.