When Krisha, a First Place for Youth participant from LA, visited Washington, D.C. for the first time in February 2017, she made time to see the sights, but she wasn’t just there as a tourist. She had been asked by our partners at iFoster to speak to staffers of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth. Krisha had a story to tell about the importance of jobs programs for Opportunity Youth—young people who are neither working or in school.
Krisha entered foster care after her grandmother’s death. She struggled to stay motivated in school, eventually dropping out in her sophomore year of high school in favor of trying to find a job. “I did not see the value of continuing school for two years when I needed to work to live,” Krisha explain. Unfortunately, without a high school diploma or work experience, Krisha faced an uphill battle. As she approached the end of her time in foster care, she knew something had to change if she was going to make it on her own. In June of 2015, she joined First Place and moved into her apartment. With a safe, stable place to live, Krisha could focus on figuring how to get back on track in her education and think about what she wanted out of a career.
Her Education and Employment Specialist, Daniel, and Youth Advocate, Mariya, immediately began working with her to plan and set her goals in getting back to school, finding work, and learning the skills that would allow her to live independently. With Daniel’s guidance, Krisha decided to re-enroll in school through Five Keys’ independent study charter school—operating on-site at our Los Angeles office—and joined the iFoster Jobs Program to prepare for work in the grocery industry.
Krisha excelled in iFoster’s program, learning how to write a resume, present herself in interviews, handle conflict, and work as part of a team. After completing this job readiness training, she applied for and was hired in a courtesy clerk position at Ralph’s Supermarkets. It wasn’t glamourous—cleaning bathrooms, corralling carts, and helping customers to their cars—but with the confidence she’d developed through the support of First Place and iFoster, Krisha embraced opportunities to learn new skills and take on new challenges. She developed a good reputation among her supervisors thanks to a positive attitude and a willingness to do more than what was asked of her. Within a year she’d earned five promotions and was on track for an in-store management position.
Krisha’s story was such a testament to the impact of supportive jobs programs for young people like her that, in March, she returned to D.C. This time she met and spoke before members of Congress in support of the Opening Doors for Youth Act and announced that she was officially a manager of the floral department at her store.
While working, Krisha has continued studying at Five Keys to earn the credits she needs to finish high school. With her diploma now within reach, she is looking toward her next goal: enrolling in college. We are so incredibly proud of Krisha’s hard work, her amazing positive attitude in the face of challenges, and her dedication to helping other foster youth find the same opportunities and success that she has.
Watch Krisha’s Testimony
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