Local nonprofit Fostering Youth Independence (FYI) is celebrating its 100th youth served by launching a “100 for 100” campaign asking for 100 donors to help support its emergency assistance fund for local foster youth.
“FYI’s foster youth are economically disadvantaged and lack the means to overcome a financial emergency,” said Carolyn Olsen, FYI’s executive director and co-founder. “Without any family support, an unexpected car repair need or other unforeseen expense can derail a student’s educational plans. The transition out of COVID-19 brings many opportunities to more effectively serve our youth, but it also brings challenges.”
She said that as COVID-19 relief programs eventually end, youth will face financial hardships that affect their housing situation, schoolwork, and day-to-day living, needs that can only be met by FYI’s emergency assistance fund.
FYI’s emergency assistance fund has recently paid for a bed, refrigerators, academic fees, books, laptops, car payments and insurance, rent assistance, emergency transportation, household items, bike repair and food. Olsen added that not only are these needs expected to continue throughout the summer, but also may rise at the end of September when some of the youth will lose their transitional housing.
“We’re thankful that transitional housing payments to foster youth have been extended to the end of September, allowing our youth to stay in their homes for now,” Olsen said, “but those youth over 21 will lose this benefit at that time which adds additional pressure and worry about where they will live and how they will pay for it.
“That’s why we’re using this milestone of 100 youth supported to raise awareness about our needs, and asking for 100 people to donate to FYI’s emergency assistance fund, which is key to providing youth with support through difficult financial times,” she added.
The organization’s milestone was reached in the past month, four years since FYI’s founding. Since that time, they have supported Santa Clarita’s transition-age foster youth (ages 16 to 25) with
needed resources as they age out of the foster system and work to complete a post-secondary education to prepare to become successful, independent adults.
COVID-19 had exacerbated the challenges foster youth already face. Many of FYI’s youth became unemployed, and most have struggled with the transition to online learning. FYI has supported these youth in a number of ways and has been a family for those who have none. FYI’s volunteer Allies and staff have also provided emotional support for youth who have felt especially alone during this time.
“We know that, even as we come out of COVID restrictions, many of our youth will continue to face challenges, and FYI exists to support and encourage them. We’re always so grateful for the generosity of our community, and we thank everyone who can participate in our ‘100 for 100’ campaign,” Olsen said.
Donations can be submitted by visiting www.fyifosteryouth.org or, alternately, contacting FYI at 661-360-1500.