Homeless or Incarcerated.
This is the overwhelmingly common outcome for young people who age out of foster care. This has been the case for far too long, despite millions of dollars being used to fund programs in the hopes of changing these outcomes. While some small community programs have seen some signs of success, very little has been done to take on this massive problem at a massive scale.
Many of the programs in place have the best intentions in mind. It seems logical that teaching a young person how to write a resume, how to dress and act in an interview, and putting them in touch with local businesses with good intentions are a good start to breaking the cycle of poor outcomes for foster youth. Grants are readily available for these types of services each year. However, the reality is that little is changing. Young people continue to move from one entry level job to the next, without being able to achieve the livable wage needed to reach self-sufficiency.
The stigma of being a foster youth is one of the most upsetting elements of working with these amazing young people. And, while it does drive me crazy, I do not necessarily mean the stigma in the minds of the general population (which includes hiring managers). I mean the stigma foster youth have of themselves. They have been told they do not matter and are not good enough their entire lives. It does not matter how polished your resume is, how well you are dressed, or how many businesses you are connected to if you walk into a job with that mindset. That mindset will end in failure in almost all circumstances.
We need to take it a step further and give them the tools to change that mindset and see themselves as the amazing, resilient, compassionate, strong, and courageous people that they truly are. Once they have an understanding of these strengths and how they bring value to a team and employer, they will be capable of changing their lives and the lives of those around them.
Very few people know more about how to bring out an individual’s strengths to be a part of a high performing team than Navy Seals. We have teamed up with former Navy Seals who have turned their battle-tested, world-class leadership experience into a curriculum of 8 core components that every individual needs in order to reach peak performance in their role on a high performing team. Each component is broken down into a learning opportunity, practice space and application into real life so that our youth can be immersed in how the component fits in their life as they take on roles within the community around them.
The other unique part of the training is the distribution method. Instead of sitting 20 youth in a classroom for 2 hours for a PowerPoint presentation that they forget 10 minutes after leaving, we leverage a technology platform that consistently pushes new content and information to the youth via SMS text and E-mail. This gives the youth the opportunity to pull more content when they are ready to receive it, go back and get additional clarifications on items they missed and an opportunity to send us a story of how the components created a positive outcome in their lives so that we can share their growth with the community. This technology allows us to send content and training to more youth at a lower cost, and continually add new content as the data comes back to our system.
We believe the skills and leadership the Navy Seals have spent years perfecting can have a huge impact on young adults preparing for life after foster care. Over the next 8 weeks we will give an in depth look into all 8 of the components of Seal’d for Purpose. Be on the look out for the first component next week!