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Pathways To Adulthood Projects

A 15-year-old boy spends two afternoons each week delivering hot meals to home-bound seniors in his neighborhood. A teenage girl visits a local radio station and begins her love affair with broadcast journalism. And a former gang member abandons the street life for a fireman’s ladder. The Community Foundation’s Pathways to Adulthood program has been a primary investor in the youth of our county, smoothing the transition from childhood to adulthood and ensuring greater success for more of our young adults than ever before.

Through its proactive partnership approach, Pathways to Adulthood makes grants available to youth-serving agencies countywide, thereby fostering innovative programs and improving the systems that support our young people. These programs seek to improve job preparedness, targeting young adults between the ages of 14 and 24, by providing career exploration, employability skills training and mentorship.

In 2010, one of the program’s newest grantees was the Bakari Project, a year-long effort in partnership with the SLO County Probation Department that transforms the lives of youth who have been involved in the criminal justice system. Many of the project’s participants were gang members, have substance abuse issues, or are on probation. Centered on the “triangle of success” – community, school, and home – the mentorship component strives to create positive experiences in each of these domains where negative feelings once prevailed. Pathways to Adulthood funds the employability skills training and career exploration components of the project.

“The Bakari Project reaches the highest risk teens, and has been recognized by the county’s Anti-Gang Commission as being key to preventing the expansion of gangs, “ said The Community Foundation’s Janice Fong Wolf. “During its first year, 77 percent of the participants who graduated from the project were employed one year post graduation.”

Youth in Action, another Pathways project, serves 60 of the most at-risk youth currently attending Lucia Mar Unified School District. Vocational mentoring and job shadowing are offered in collaboration with the SLO County Probation Department in the effort to prevent gang membership and violence.

Pathways has also sponsored One Cool Earth, an entrepreneurial program that partners with Liberty High School in Paso Robles to develop a student-run native plant nursery. With a keen eye toward sustainability, One Cool Earth teaches students all phases of developing and operating a small business, while growing and selling native plants.

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