Those who age out of foster care may not know what steps to take as they navigate through life. That’s where Trinity Opportunity Alliance comes in. The organization and its partners help those young adults gain independence and connect with job opportunities.
“We find employers to work with and we train those employers to understand what it’s like for these young people growing up in foster care by giving them an overview of what foster care is. We help them understand the trauma that these kids have experienced, and some of those things that might come up in their employment opportunities,” said Berisha Black, Trinity Opportunity Alliance director of programs.
Trinity Opportunity Alliance has connected nearly 200 young adults who have aged out of the foster system with employment opportunities.
As the alliance grows, it will continue to set people up for financial, personal and professional independence.
“That pride in being able to make your own money and being able to contribute, be a taxpayer, give back, learning new skill sets, learning how to socialize, being mentored by career experts,” Black said. “When you’re teaching someone how to fish versus giving them a fish. Guess what? I’m going to want more fish tomorrow and the next day. So, teach me how to go out there and get it.”
Trinity Opportunity Alliance works with Fry’s Food Stores to educate the grocery store chain on the unique challenges those who experienced foster care face. The partnership has created an opportunity for numerous young adults to work at Fry’s.
The alliance trained Fry’s management “on trauma and foster care and they’ve hired now over 100 young people and are really working strong with those young people. They’re not all still employed there but some of them had their first opportunity there and were able to go on and get other employment opportunities,” Black said.
If a young adult involved in Trinity Opportunity Alliance has to move suddenly or often, Fry’s works to have them transferred to a location closer to their new living space.
Understanding the unique challenges- such as moving often- that those who have experienced foster care or who have aged out face allows the employer to effectively work with them and help them maintain the job.
Black explained that people who age out of the foster system often face challenges in transportation, housing, workforce preparation and references.
“Our partners are definitely continuing to work with them while they’re on the job because we want them to keep the job, want them to be successful and we want them to move to either a career path with that employer or move onto another employer,” Black said.
Trinity Opportunity Alliance also helps those who age out of foster care to be placed in paid internships if they are interested.
“One of our partner agencies, they do paid internships so they’re actually looking for places where they can place these young people in an internship,” Black explained.
When young adults participate in an internship, it allows them to explore career opportunities that fit with their goals.
“These opportunities are great for them to start learning those skill sets before they go into a real employment opportunity. We’re looking for employers to give those types of opportunities- for internships, opportunities to mentor and hire them,” Black said.
Black explained that internship opportunities are ideal for young adults who need to work and earn money while attending school.