Finding the Common Denominator for Youth in Transition

This week we celebrate our programs that support youth in transition. Launching the week is our annual golf tournament at Quaker Ridge in Queens, NY, where dozens of golfers will turn out to have a day of fun and raise awareness and funds to support our education, work readiness, and life skills programming. It is always a great day with wonderful food and camaraderie,where people from all walks join in a great common cause.

Supporting youth in transition is a hallmark of our work at Fedcap. Our Fedcap School in New Jersey offers vocational programs for youth with disabilities and learning challenges.    Our signature  GetReady!™  web-based curriculum offers 6000+ youth  each year the opportunity to assess their talents, strengths, and skills, build their personal brand, develop a network of professional support and plan for the “next step” in their career—whether it be further education or employment.  Our innovative Connect2Careers™  and Networking by Design™ provide the opportunity for youth to practice what they learn through Get Ready to practice their informational interviewing skills, build their professional network and learn about the diverse career options available.

Our programs are not just about slotting a young person into a job or education program and leaving it there. Instead, our goal is to support a next step, and a sustained step, which will lead to economic well-being. For many of these youth, these concepts were once only an idea. Our programs turn those ideas into reality.

Our programs are creating relevant, sustainable impact.  They tip the scale in terms of numbers youth who have the skills and supports to successfully transition to adulthood. Research suggests that change is very difficult for all of us—even when we are faced with life-threatening illness or circumstances. In his 27 year longitudinal research Barry Duncan suggests that there are three key ingredients to sustained change. These three ingredients form the backbone of our programming—they are the common denominator for a successful transition for the youth we serve.  Duncan suggests that for any of us who want to make a change, these three things are required—especially for youth in transition:

  1. Relationship: We need a consistent emotional attachment to a person or community who inspires us and sustains our hope.
  2. Strengths : We need to engage with people who see us as having strengths—and we need to build our future based on these strengths—enabling sustained change
  3. Hope: We need those around us who generate a hopefulness and sense of possibility for the future.

The true common denominator that undergirds these three principles is key: a consistent adult—a mentor who “sees” us, who will support, champion, coach us to our best selves—by seeing our strengths, our talents, and our existing skills —and, ultimately to believe in us even when we falter at times in our own belief that we can change or make a transition to something new and unknown.

I welcome your thoughts.

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