At first, POC’s target was to help foster and homeless children, ages 5 and younger. During those first years, our focus was to raise funds to buy baby formula, diapers, clothing, any other items desperately needed at the various foster centers we helped.
After 2 years of targeting this age group we realized that in the United States if a parent needs to feed or acquire specific necessities for his/her child, they can seek help from the many government aid programs and non-profits that cater to this age group. At this point it had also become evident that there was a more marginalized group within the marginalized, a group that gets ignored by most government aid programs and non-profits: Foster and homeless youth who are 18 years or older. It is this young adult who is trapped between the joys of coming of age and the disparity of having grown up in a foster home, shelter or in the streets, who desperately needs guidance, financial and educational help as he/she enters adulthood.
However, despite our evolution, one thing remains intact: our commitment to utilizing 100% of donated funds to fuel our cause and help underprivileged youth versus allocating a large percentage of funds to overhead costs. We make your donations count, it’s that simple.
Why care about youth transitioning out of homelessness, shelters or the foster/shelter system?
Sure, you may think that by this point these youth are over 18 years of age and thus should be able to shape their own future, to figure things out on their own. But, do you think you would have been able to abruptly face the world and become who you are today without any family to guide you and help you along the way?
In San Diego County alone, every year there are nearly 300 youth who “age out” of foster care or shelters and have to face the abrupt transition from government-funded care to independence.
Why help underprivileged young adults?
Through our work with local San Diego County shelters, we discovered a tremendous unmet need. We found that young adults living in shelters, foster homes, or with adoptive parents, as well as those on probation, were lacking many essential resources. In fact, there is a tremendous gap in community support services available to underprivileged young adults in San Diego, including services to assist in furnishing a first home, obtaining entrance to and payment for education, obtaining a driver’s license, as well as career training. Research shows that when compared with their peers, young people emerging from government-funded care are, on average:
Less likely to have a high school diploma;
Less likely to pursue higher education;
More likely to have experienced economic hardships;
More likely to be homeless;;
Less likely to be earning a living wage;
More likely to have had a child without being married;
More likely to become involved with the criminal justice system; and
Are less likely to obtain a college degree – only 3% of former foster young adult will achieve this.