Empowering homeless youth in Phoenix to graduate high school and plan for the future
Homeless Youth Connection (HYC) provides services to homeless youth ages 13 through 21 in over 100 Phoenix area schools. Microsoft provided funding to HYC to ensure young adults can fulfill their potential by completing their education.
Homeless Youth Connection (HYC) provides services to homeless youth ages 13 through 21 in over 100 Phoenix area schools. The need is great; according to HYC, there are over 8,000 homeless youth in Maricopa County, Arizona. Of the people that HYC serves, 30 percent (over 2,300) are unaccompanied, meaning they aren’t in the custody of a parent or guardian, for a variety of reasons. Some parents are dealing with addiction, preventing them from adequately caring for their children. Others have left behind their children in favor of new relationships, and some have cut ties with their children over the child’s sexual orientation. HYC steps in to provide support to these children, having helped 3,000 homeless youth in the last 11 years.
HYC initially started by offering basic needs like food and clothing to students who were experiencing homelessness. However, they realized that connecting these youth with housing and helping them attain a high school education would help them create a more successful future. HYC’s Host Family program places homeless youth in a home setting; the host family gives shelter, food, and emotional support, providing the youth with stability and positive relationships.
This stability is key to helping these young people reach high school graduation. HYC has a 93 percent graduation rate for its participants. But HYC’s involvement doesn’t end there. The organization will help participants create a plan for the future, whether through college education, vocational training, or gainful employment. Case workers help students overcome barriers, like attaining a government-issued ID, and assist with logistics, like completing the FAFSA. HYC’s post-graduation college program provides case management and continued support after high school graduation.
HYC’s programming will continue to evolve to eliminate barriers to graduation for homeless youth and create lasting solutions for a successful future though community support and increased awareness. This programming creates a real sense of support for homeless youth. One participant says, “I thought I was just going to be left on my own to figure things out. When I met them, I was grateful they were able to provide me with so much.”