Resilient Youth in Review

This year, we conducted a Lightning Grant Round focused on Resilient Youth (previously called At-Risk Youth), an issue in which Partners expressed interest in last year’s all-Partner survey. The Round was led by SV2 Board Member and Partner Shalyn Eason with staff support from Ashley Clark. After conducting rigorous due diligence, Partners made one-year general operating support grants to two organizations, Youth Law Center in November and California Youth Connection in February. We are thrilled to welcome these two organizations into our portfolio.

What do we mean by Resilient Youth?
Resilient youth are young people, ages 14 to 26, who face significant barriers to life success. This population could include foster youth, homeless/formerly homeless youth, disconnected young adults who are neither working nor in school, and incarcerated and formerly incarcerated young adults. Resilient youth are a particularly vulnerable population where intervention and the right support at the right time can transform life trajectories.

Meet our Grantees
California Youth Connection (CYC), led by Executive Director Haydée Cuza, empowers foster youth ages 14–24 to build leadership skills and forge supportive relationships while advocating for child welfare reforms that directly impact foster youths’ lives. Since its founding in 1988, CYC has grown to 42 chapters throughout California with over 900 youth members, and the organization has refined an effective and sophisticated system of youth-led policy development, securing the passage of dozens of laws, while helping implement local and statewide child welfare policies. Visit CYC at their website to learn more.

Youth Law Center (YLC) is led by Executive Director Jennifer Rodriguez, whose work is informed by her personal experience from within the foster youth and the juvenile justice systems as a child. YLC approaches its work by listening to the voices of foster children and youth, their birth families, and foster and kinship families when deciding what problems to approach. They then integrate robust research to design litigation, systems change approaches, and solutions from diverse fields such as child development, psychology, behavioral economics, marketing and branding, and adult learning.

When speaking about the organization’s work, Jennifer notes, “Our end goal is not simply to make things less bad for our [systems-involved] children but to do what we’d want for our own children–which is that they are happy, feel loved, and that they thrive. This is so important and it informs all of our work…” Learn more about YLC’s unique approach to systems-level change and advocacy work by visiting their website.

In Good Company
California Youth Connection and Youth Law Center join SV2’s portfolio as the latest in a strong slate of Resilient Youth-focused organizations. Over the years, SV2 has made grants to Foster Youth in Action, Fresh Lifelines for Youth, and The Art of Yoga Project, to name a few. You can check out all of our past Resilient Youth Grantees here.