Helping Young Women Succeed
Crossing the “bridge” from childhood to adulthood is challenging for any young person today, but it is especially intimidating for the youth in Central Indiana who are aging out of the foster care system and do not have a family to support and embrace them as they embark on this critical journey. Each year, statewide, The Villages is privileged to serve over 350 such youth, ages seventeen to twenty-one. And thanks to a grant from the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, The Villages will be able to better prepare these vulnerable youth as they enter adulthood.
In October of 2012, The Villages initiated a pilot project in Central Indiana, funded by a Board Officer and a generous donor, to provide intensive, focused social and communication skill building opportunities for ten of The Villages’ female Transitional Living youth, in hopes of helping them achieve economic empowerment and self-sufficiency. John Scott, an experienced etiquette, leadership, and social skill building consultant, provided a six-week long class focusing on the development of communication, social and etiquette skills which would enhance their self confidence and their capacity to present themselves positively in interview, educational, and social situations. Throughout The Villages’ 35-year history, our staff have seen a pervasive absence of these “soft” social skills — even among the most determined and resilient youth we are privileged to serve. At the conclusion of the six-week series, Mr. Scott, the young women in the class, and two Villages’ social workers were treated to a formal dinner, thanks to a local restaurant.
Ericka (pictured right), one of the young women who was fully engaged in this class, indicated to her Villages’ mentors that she had changed her personal goal from graduating from Indiana University to getting selected for and graduating from the IU Kelley School of Business! So, her generous mentors have continued to fund Mr. Scott to provide six months of individual coaching for Ericka. The impact — Ericka applied, interviewed and was accepted to the Kelley School of Business!
After seeing the success Ericka experienced, The Villages was anxious to replicate this enrichment opportunity and thanks to a generous grant from the Women’s Fund we are now able to offer two six-week “Empowerment Skills … and More!” programs to at least twenty young women who are already receiving services from The Villages. We have seen, firsthand, that investing in these vulnerable, yet strong, young adults generates an immeasurable return; and we are thrilled that the Women’s Fund recognizes that too!