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New grant from City of St. Petersburg helping young adults who aged out of foster care

By Mark Wilson | Published  June 18, 2024 3:38pm EDT | What's Right with Tampa Bay | FOX 13 News

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Young adults who have aged out of foster care are getting an extra helping hand thanks to a new grant from the City of St. Pete.

Helping this often forgotten population is "What's Right With Tampa Bay."

"We all wrap around these young adults and try and fill in those life skills and learning gaps that they missed out on in their teenage and young years," said Kathy Mize, founder of Ready for Life Skill Center in Pinellas County.

The non-profit provides mentoring support for former foster care kids who have aged out of the system but still need a little help getting on their feet.

"Our job is to help encourage them to keep going, whether it's get back in school, get a job and be right there with them and be that one person that cares that they're here and that they have a successful life," Mize added.

The City of St. Pete is helping with a program called Youth Opportunity Grant. It provides $500 a month, for a whole year, to 88 young adults who've aged out of foster care.

"We were just thinking about what we wanted to do with that money, and had the idea that we really wanted to focus on our city's youth in a population that really needs that extra hand," Jess Reidel, City of St. Petersburg said.

For the young adults, the project is a much-needed lifeline.

"Just having an opportunity for us, have $500 a month for a year," said Jordan Kithcart, who aged out of foster care. That equals up to $6,000. You know, that's $6,000 that could help us get out of debt, pay off our student loan."

Dylan Greer, who also aged out of foster care, said, "If you wanted to buy your first car, if you wanted to go get your first apartment, it would give you a little bit more access to that."

Former foster youth face high rates of homelessness, human trafficking, and mental health issues. The city hopes to change the tide by helping young adults have a smoother transition into adulthood.

"We really wanted to focus on that, that population, support them in that transition to adulthood to ensure they're set up for success," Reidel said.

The program will be starting later this year. For more information, click here.

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