What Happens to Youth Who Age Out of Foster Care? They GRADUATE on to the Next Chapter!

Her Name is Elaine: In What Program Did She Participate?  

We’re happy to bring you Elaine’s story of success, thanks to her hard work and participation in one of Connected Youth Initiative’s programs! Elaine enrolled in the Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP) program

Connected Youth Initiative’s LEAP offers Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) as part of its Postsecondary Education and Career Pathways focus area. These vouchers to support postsecondary education and training are administered by Central Plains Center for Services, through a contracted partnership with Nebraska Children and Families Foundation using John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program funds provided by Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.   

The Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) help students to cover up to $2,400 of expenses including tuition, fees, and book costs. In Nebraska, the Education and Training Voucher disbursements are aligned with LEAP, which also provides one-on-one coaching for added support. The sessions entail regular face-to-face, phone, or email communication where the coach and student work to identify their prime areas of focus.   

Thanks to alignment with CYI’s LEAP program, ETV recipients and their coaches can also tackle subjects such as relationships, work-life balance, housing, and scheduling. During these meetings, the coach offers encouragement that builds on the young person’s previous accomplishment and creates plans for future ones. Coaches will link youth to campus support systems as well.  Let’s hear Elaine’s story, in her words.  

Elaine’s Story of Accomplishment  

“My name is Elaine and I have been in the ETV Program for four years. ETV has helped me accomplish more than I ever imagined. Life for me has come with its challenges. Growing up, I was in and out of foster care. I didn’t have the support at home that I needed. I lacked focus and direction. Education could not be a priority because I was just trying to survive. Then, I became a teen parent and added the challenge of parenting on top of all the other challenges in my life. I also struggled with my mental health, which resulted in briefly losing custody of my daughter. It was at this time that I realized I had to find my own focus and direction and make my own way in this world. 

Elaine leveraged her resiliency and CYI's programs; thanks to both, her story is a happy one.
Elaine leveraged her resiliency and CYI’s programs; thanks to both, her story is a happy one.

“When I was 18 years old, I attended a college fair that really sparked my interest in attending college. One college in particular showed a lot of interest in helping me make this happen and made the college going process seem easy; however, after enrolling and accruing much debt, this institution proved to be the wrong direction for me.  

“Again, I was facing a life with no focus or directions. It was at this time I got connected with the ETV program through a friend who was also involved in ETV.  Wow, this program and its staff changed my whole way of thinking.   

“Ms. Jessi Mason quickly informed me I was eligible for the ETV Program. She also connected me to Ann Lenz. At first, I thought ETV was just money for college, but I quickly realized that both Jessi and Ann were experts in everything about college. I had created a big mess at the college I first attended. I could not transfer to a better college without help in cleaning up my mess. I was able to meet face-to-face with Ann Lenz. I will never forget when she looked right at me and said to me, ‘You can do this!”’ 

“Together, we worked to address the issues at my first college and begin working towards a transfer that would be a better fit for me. They had connections at both colleges that allowed this transition to be a smooth one. They helped me in ways I could have never imagined. They became my biggest cheerleaders, my biggest supporters, my main source of guidance, and my motivation to complete my degree.  

“I now am just a few short months away from earning my Paralegal degree. The last six months have again been very challenging for me with all of my classes going online. Both Jessi and Ann helped me with technology and connectivity support, and again believed that I could do this, even with all of my classes online. I don’t think I could have done spring and now fall quarter online without their constant support and encouragement. 

Through the ETV program, I’ve always had someone to speak to and ask for guidance. The most important thing has been the relationships I was able to gain. Ms. Jessi Mason and Ann Lenz are amazing people doing amazing work! I could always count on them to answer my questions and guide me when I had questions related to college. I’m not sure what I would have done without them.” 

What Happens to Youth Who Age Out of Foster Care? They GRADUATE on to the Next Chapter!  

Her Name is Elaine: In What Program Did She Participate?  

We’re happy to bring you Elaine’s story of success, thanks to her hard work and participation in one of Connected Youth Initiative’s programs! Elaine enrolled in the Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP) program. 

Connected Youth Initiative’s LEAP offers Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) as part of its Postsecondary Education and Career Pathways focus area. These vouchers to support postsecondary education and training are administered by Central Plains Center for Services, through a contracted partnership with Nebraska Children and Families Foundation using John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program funds provided by  Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.   

The Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) help students to cover up to $2,400 of expenses including tuition, fees, and book costs. In Nebraska, the Education and Training Voucher disbursements are aligned with LEAP, which also provides one-on-one coaching for added support. The sessions entail regular face-to-face, phone, or email communication where the coach and student work to identify their prime areas of focus.   

Thanks to alignment with CYI’s LEAP program, ETV recipients and their coaches can also tackle subjects such as relationships, work-life balance, housing, and scheduling. During these meetings, the coach offers encouragement that builds on the young person’s previous accomplishment and creates plans for future ones. Coaches will link youth to campus support systems as well. Let’s hear Elaine’s story, in her words.  

Elaine’s Story of Accomplishment  

“My name is Elaine and I have been in the ETV Program for four years. ETV has helped me accomplish more than I ever imagined. Life for me has come with its challenges. Growing up, I was in and out of foster care. I didn’t have the support at home that I needed. I lacked focus and direction. Education could not be a priority because I was just trying to survive. Then, I became a teen parent and added the challenge of parenting on top of all the other challenges in my life. I also struggled with my mental health, which resulted in briefly losing custody of my daughter. It was at this time that I realized I had to find my own focus and direction and make my own way in this world. 

“When I was 18 years old, I attended a college fair that really sparked my interest in attending college. One college in particular showed a lot of interest in helping me make this happen and made the college going process seem easy; however, after enrolling and accruing much debt, this institution proved to be the wrong direction for me.  

“Again, I was facing a life with no focus or directions. It was at this time I got connected with the ETV program through a friend who was also involved in ETV.  Wow, this program and its staff changed my whole way of thinking.   

“Ms. Jessi Mason quickly informed me I was eligible for the ETV Program. She also connected me to Ann Lenz. At first, I thought ETV was just money for college, but I quickly realized that both Jessi and Ann were experts in everything about college. I had created a big mess at the college I first attended. I could not transfer to a better college without help in cleaning up my mess. I was able to meet face-to-face with Ann Lenz. I will never forget when she looked right at me and said to me, ‘You can do this!”’ 

“Together, we worked to address the issues at my first college and begin working towards a transfer that would be a better fit for me. They had connections at both colleges that allowed this transition to be a smooth one. They helped me in ways I could have never imagined. They became my biggest cheerleaders, my biggest supporters, my main source of guidance, and my motivation to complete my degree.  

“I now am just a few short months away from earning my Paralegal degree. The last six months have again been very challenging for me with all of my classes going online. Both Jessi and Ann helped me with technology and connectivity support, and again believed that I could do this, even with all of my classes online. I don’t think I could have done spring and now fall quarter online without their constant support and encouragement. 

Through the ETV program, I’ve always had someone to speak to and ask for guidance. The most important thing has been the relationships I was able to gain. Ms. Jessi Mason and Ann Lenz are amazing people doing amazing work! I could always count on them to answer my questions and guide me when I had questions related to college. I’m not sure what I would have done without them.” 

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Nebraska Children and Families Foundation supports children, young adults and families at risk with the overall goal of giving our state's most vulnerable kids what they need to reach their full potential. We do this by building strong communities that support families so their children can grow up to be thriving, productive adults.

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Posted in News and Events, Systems, Teen/Early Adulthood

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