What is Maine LEAP?
All of Maine’s youth deserve equitable opportunities for education and career success. Yet, youth in foster care have historically fallen behind their peers in the general population in these areas. As one response to this issue, Maine has joined a national effort called Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP) which is being led by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and adapts two evidence-based models to build solid pathways for young people from high school to post-secondary education and careers. One of these models, Jobs for the Future’s Back on Track, prepares young people for a smooth launch into a postsecondary career pathway and supports them during their first year in college. The other, Jobs for America’s Graduates, helps youth earn a high school credential, develop professional skills and gain employment or enroll in postsecondary education.
Maine LEAP is also a systems improvement effort focused on creating supported and seamless education and career pathways for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood. Maine LEAP partners include Maine’s Office of Child and Family Services, Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG), Goodwill Industries and Eastern Maine Development Corporation. These organizations are deepening and expanding their longstanding partnerships in ways that will enhance their collective impact on the education and career outcomes of youth who have experienced foster care.
How will LEAP change lives?
Over the course of the next five years (2016 - 2021), Maine LEAP will create system level changes that will remain in place for all young people in foster care. In partnership with young people, the organizations involved in Maine LEAP will determine exactly what young people need to feel prepared for and be successful in school and work. As part of a broader continuum of services and supports, Maine LEAP will focus on youth ages 14 to 25 and will provide three connected efforts/phases - an alternative Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG) program in high school, postsecondary bridging from high school to postsecondary education or training and supports throughout the first year of a college or career training pathway. As described below:
JMG Alternative Model
First Year Supports
Regular college and career support from a JMG specialist and school advisory team
Develop 37 competencies through JMG curriculum
Member-led Career Association
Events held outside of school hours such as community service, social activities and outdoor adventure trips
Skill development in areas such as study skills, note taking, time management, navigating campus resources, digital literacy, etc.
Learning about college culture, completing and maintaining financial aid/FASFA, admissions, etc.
Plan development for first year in college including course selection
Connection to peer cohort
Connection to job training programs and career development services
Accelerated college credit opportunities
Support navigating college and academic supports
Fun events and activities with peer cohort
Financial incentives for achievement of milestones
Emergency funds to meet students’ unexpected financial needs
Job placement services and supports