Kloreace, a Connected Youth Initiative participant living in Lincoln, Nebraska, has worked hard and after six months of saving and planning, she bought her own home.
Along with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, they’ve also welcomed a new family member: a puppy.
A school psychologist who recently obtained her Education Specialist degree, Kloreace achieved this goal, thanks to her fortitude and Opportunity Passport™, a program offered through Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders Counties, and supported by Nebraska Children’s Connected Youth Initiative.
We’re glad to partner with Community Action. Their mission to empower people living in poverty to reach economic stability mirrors our own.
At 25 years old, Kloreace thought big and dreamt bigger. Six months after enrolling in Opportunity Passport™, she bought a house! A passionate school psychologist, she possesses many talents: she’s intelligent, driven, and compassionate. She’s also an advocate for the Opportunity Passport ™ program.
“It’s a very beautiful program,” said Kloreace regarding Opportunity Passport. “It teaches you fiscal responsibility for a lifetime. The classes are outstanding. They ARE [about] real-world things.”
For Kloreace, there are other benefits, too. “[The program facilitators] say, ‘Let me hold your hand and make sure you’re making a good choice.’”
Kloreace said that she appreciated that the facilitators offered financial advice to participants regarding their purchases. For example, if a participant wishes to purchase a car with potentially expensive repairs and parts, Kloreace said that the coaches would let the enrollee know that this asset might pose as a costly endeavor.
Opportunity Passport™ is just one of the supports offered by Nebraska Children’s Connected Youth Initiative (CYI) and our partners, including Community Action.
CYI began as a statewide expansion of Project Everlast Omaha’s successful model. CYI assists and supports young people between the ages of 14-25 who have experienced the foster care system, juvenile justice and/or probation, human trafficking, or homelessness.
CYI’s goal is to ensure these young people are supported as they enter adulthood. Connected Youth Initiative offers resources including Central Navigation, Coaching, Opportunity Passport ™, and Youth Leadership via community collaboratives across the state.
An Opportunity Passport™ participant, Kloreace is a young professional whose impressive strides have taken her into a new home. Kloreace said that she and her husband were ready to find a place they could call home. While both obtaining their graduate degrees, the couple had lived in apartments for the past eight years.
“We were burned-out, tired,” said Kloreace about the rental process. “Having a home is a lot of fun! The best part is that we’re investing in our future. Opportunity Passport™ expedited the process.”
Kloreace said that without the program, she and her husband would have had to wait another year before buying a house.
Created by Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, Connected Youth Initiative and partners administer the Opportunity Passport™ program in Nebraska.
Opportunity Passport™ allows participants to save money and utilize a 3:1 savings match. For example, if a participant wishes to save for a car, if she saves $2,000, the program provides $6,000 for a vehicle purchase, including insurance and registration.
The program also offers 2:1 matches for living and asset-specific costs such as housing, medical expenses, education, debt reduction, and investments.
Finally, participants are eligible for a 1:1 match to make purchases to support their stability. Throughout the program, Opportunity Passport ™ participants receive referrals and active case management. This support may include assistance with opening personal bank accounts and establishing or re-establishing personal credit.
“It was an incredible opportunity,” she said regarding her experience. “I’ve developed a financial backing I wouldn’t otherwise have. It’s an incredible program for anyone in the foster care system.”
Kloreace said she feels a sense of gratitude and empowerment from Opportunity Passport ™, and she recommends that others follow suit.
She said that a sense of financial confidence was one of her biggest takeaways from the program. “It’s even more reassuring when [the program facilitators] look at you and say, ‘Yes, you can do this.”
“It just really levels the playing field,” she said. “And if someone who qualified asked me whether they should join, all I would say is, ‘What do you have to lose?’”