UPDATE: November 19, 2012: The Independent City workshop held at the University of Redlands (San Bernardino County) on November 17 accomplished its goal to teach 200 current and timed-out foster youth (16-21) life skills. The workshop, organized by the San Bernardino County Departments of Children and Family Services, and Probation, received $6,000 from the state and federal government and when the University of Redlands required that workshop organizers workshop use its catering service, taking the budget over the top; the local nonprofit Children's Fund covered the overrun.
(At left, volunteers and foster youth at an Independent City event held in Bakersfield in October.)
Independent City attendee, Jennifer, a 17-year-old foster youth, who has lived in four different foster homes, "that she can remember" said, "I've learned a lot. They teach us about everything from applying to
college to going grocery shopping. Most of it isn't new to me, but for
most kids who are transitioning it's stuff they wouldn't know about." (A program of San Francisco's John Burton Foundation, "California College Pathways," is geared toward assisting foster youth to attend college.)
When California's Children reporter asked about her favorite session, Jennifer said, "...the one about colleges. It's cool to know about all the money there is for foster kids and the things schools will do to help people who grew up in the homes."
Most of the foster youth who attended the all-day workshop did so by choice (some were required to attend by their probation officers). In addtion to breakfast and lunch, some of the day's "swag" included raffle items (purchased with the simulation's mock money), and, at the end of the day, a $20 Walmart gift card.
When Jennifer was asked why she chose to attend she responded, "... they tell us about a lot of good stuff we'll need in the future... [like] how to open a bank account... useful stuff that most kids just don't know how to do."
The mission statement for the workshop read,"This workshop is designed to teach youth money management skills and concepts related to financial independence." According to Jennifer, the workshop did just that.
Written by:Taylor McCulloch
Additional Research by:Zacharia Leonardi