Formed in 2010, the Lightening Alliance Community Development Corporation is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization supporting former foster teens and other at-risk young adults who are transitioning to independent living. Studies show that 40 percent of our nation’s homeless were once in foster care. Twenty-five percent of youth “aging out” of foster care experience homelessness before they reach 21. They are six times more likely to become teenage parents and more than twice as likely to drop out of high school. While 70 percent of foster youth say they want to attend college, only 3 percent ever receive a college degree. Fewer than half of former foster youth are employed four years after leaving care, and only 38 percent keep a job for a year or more. In Texas, there are 1,200 – 1,500 youth aging out of foster care every year. Add to that a growing number of Runaway and Throwaway teens trying to find relief from desperate situations.
They struggle with homelessness, unemployment, poverty and no emotional or financial support. They are at serious risk of human trafficking. Existing programs for chronic homeless and homeless families overlook the unique needs of this vulnerable and often invisible population.The mission of LACDC is to “lighten the load.” By partnering with agencies that provide residential services, we are able to provide unique programming intended to prevent the circumstances that too often result in homelessness, lack of education, unemployment or incarceration. Our programs are specifically designed to fill the gaps in existing programs by addressing the “poverty of being” and feelings of worthlessness that often hinder foster and at-risk youth from pursuing self-care, personal advancement and personal relationships. We focus on emotional trauma recovery by building the relational and decision-making skills needed for successful independent living.
Key elements of each workshop include:
Sharing a high-nutrition meal with the residents
Providing relationship building and mentoring opportunities
Delivering prescribed programming concepts
As of October 2014, we have completed 3 years of partnering with the City House Transitional Living Program here in Plano. Our impact has been so positive that City House has made attendance at our monthly workshops a requirement for all TLP residents and an optional service for non-residential clients. In 2013 we served 30 individuals who attended an average of 3 workshops. Due to thehigh turnover of residents, this impact may not seem like much. But we consider each encounter a relational lifeline to a young adultin need, and an important seed planted. No one else provides them with this kind of focus and attention. Every time a resident reaches out to us for a hug, we know we have touched a heart. The great news is that there are now 4 additional agencies in Collin and Dallas Counties waiting to receive our services.
Needs: Funding for Life Coaching:
Because we understand that true and lasting change starts on the inside, we are now offering certified Life Coaching services to the clients of our partner agencies. Life Coaching is different from Life Skills training in that it challenges the negative belief systems that lead to sub-optimal outcomes, and teaches tools and techniques that can quicklyproduce the more success-oriented mindset needed for sustained independent living.$250 buys a series of life changing one-to-one professional coaching sessions for one client.New Agency Launch: Each new agency added to our program will require funding for high nutrition meals and program materials.$2000 buys a monthly program for a new agency for the first year.Operational Growth: The Lightening Alliance is currently staffed by 4 volunteer board members. We do not own or rent any facilities. We own 1 computer. Everything else we need is volunteered or donated. In order to expand our services to additional agencies, we need to expand our operational capacity. That requires funding for immediate technical, communication, coordination, and marketing needs, with an eye toward the eventual need for a paid staff member. We are currently accepting donations earmarked to help us grow. The more we grow, the more youth we can impact.
Volunteers Board Members: Growth means the need for more formal and professional operations. We are in process of re-designing our board structure to create a working board with a growth strategy, and clear goals and responsibilities. If you are passionate about serving young adults and want to get personally involved in organizational development, we’d like to hear from you.
Program Delivery Volunteers: Relationship building requires a personal commitment. For each monthly program for a new agency, we need a team of 2-4 individuals dedicated to serve this program for at least 12 months. Consistent relationship is critical for the development of trust with each client. If you can dedicate one evening a month to personally touching hearts, please contact us. All are welcome, and we are especially interested in married couples who would like to volunteer together because our clients are hungry for positive role models of healthy personal relationships.
Ad Hoc Volunteers: If you are the type of person who likes to participate in a brief project here and there, please join our volunteer pool. As we grow, we will need help with miscellaneous administrative activities as well as large projects like fund raising events. The Lightening Alliance is poised for growth.
Won’t you join us? The vulnerable youth we serve will soon be responsible for leading our communities and our nation. They are more than worth the investment. For more information, please contact:
Beth Wickman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-618-7242.
To provide holistic programs supporting the empowerment of young adults at risk of homelessness by facilitating the shift from a scarcity mind-set to a belief system open to possibilities.