Education and Employment
Education and employment are significant barriers for youth trying to exit the street. Safe Place for Youth’s Education and Employment program provides resume building, life skills workshops, job and education application guidance, and networking opportunities through a trauma-informed, three-tiered approach.
Participation in the first stage, pre-employment exploration, gives youth an opportunity to engage in projects that interest them. This includes participation in the Digital Arts Lab and the Food for the Soul Garden program. Once a young person is ready and motivated, they can transition into the job readiness stage, working directly with our Education and Employment Specialist to build a resume, engage in mock interviews and network at career fairs which leads to the third stage, supportive employment. After a young person successfully obtains a job or acceptance into a school, our staff continues to support each individual throughout their education or employment journey.
In 2015, 139 youth participated in Safe Place for Youth’s Education and Employment services. This program is an important step in the process of a homeless youth’s pathway to a stable life away from the streets and our goal is to continue and expand the services we offer so that we can make the greatest impact possible on each young person that comes through the door.
Food for the Soul Garden Program
The Food for the Soul Garden program is designed to show youth experiencing homelessness the principles of building community and food security while cultivating, distributing, and preparing fresh fruits and vegetables from a self-reliant garden; promote the overall mental and physical health and well-being of a young person, and provide meaningful work opportunities that encourage self-esteem, responsibilities and self-sufficiency. In partnership with local garden businesses Home Grown Gardens, Kiss the Ground and Community Healing Gardens, youth are engaged in bi-weekly workshops at SPY’s Drop-In Center garden to learn about growing and maintaining the fruits and vegetables. Two of our youth have already become employed with one of the garden businesses as a result of this program, and we plan on working with our partners to offer paid internship opportunities for others that express an interest in the workshops in the upcoming year.
Digital Arts Lab
As part of the Education and Employment Program’s pre-employment exploration stage, the Digital Arts Lab exposes youth to technology that utilizes their innate talents while building self-esteem and motivation. Currently, 3-D design and printing workshops are taught by a volunteer once a week. One of SPY’s newer programs, the Digital Arts Lab will soon offer youth an opportunity to explore interests in music, visual arts, graphic design and filmmaking. In just three months, the 3D design and printing workshops have engaged 28 youth and there is a strong interest to explore other digital arts mediums.
In partnership with Kiss the Ground, SPY youth have been working to create a marketable body product. As part of our Education and Employment program and the Food for the Soul Garden, the product created through this pilot was conceived, developed, and designed by the youth through a series of workshops. Using some of the ingredients from our garden, Gaia’s Gift is a salve that combines 100% organic botanicals, local beeswax and nourishing oils to help with hydration and relaxation.