Louisville Metro is awarding three area organizations a combined $950,000 in grants to provide services to young adults in need of assistance.
The Creating Structures of Support for System-Involved Youth program will offer support to young people aged 16 to 24. The participating organizations are Goodwill Industries of Kentucky for peer support and transportation, YouthBuild Louisville for outreach and the Louisville Urban League for case management.
They were selected from among 16 applicants for the funding, which came from a $1 million appropriation for youth and young adults programs approved by Metro Council in June. Each organization will get at least $300,000.
Mayor Greg Fischer said the goal was to create a system of services for young adults who are out of school and not working, some of whom may also have been incarcerated or in foster care.
“These are young folks that experience tells us are often in danger of being lost to the streets and [whose] futures will often end in heartbreak for them and their family,” he said.
Officials who joined the mayor to announce the grant awardees said the language used to describe these young adults is important.
They’ve gone from calling them “disconnected youth” to “opportunity youth” to, now, “system-involved youth.” They intend that language to acknowledge that these young adults are not just cut off from some opportunities, they’re also linked to other challenges if they’re connected to the juvenile justice or foster care systems.
Aishia Brown is the director of the Office of Youth Development for Louisville Metro.
“When we use the term ‘opportunity youth,’ we fail to name the systems that they must navigate to access education, to access employment, to access health care and all of the things that they need to be healthy,” she said.
She said being clear about these systems is one step toward creating broader change that could help more young adults in need. Another, she said, is moving away from a transactional approach. That could mean making bus service free and accessible to all young adults in need, rather than providing free bus passes to some of them.
The grants will support these services for youth adults through June 2021.