The digital revolution of the 1950s challenged outdated mechanical practices introducing more effective and efficient ways of working. Hopeland has been working to create similar change in services for young people – especially those who are aging out of foster care. Too many former foster youth face unemployment, homelessness, and other issues so this change is long overdue.

The result of our work is TechLink. This first-of-its-kind public-private partnership pulls together the global tech powerhouse Google with other key partners to provide an innovative tech and coding pathway for New York City’s most vulnerable young people. After over a year of planning, design, and preparations, this idea is becoming a reality.

Applications from young people in foster care eager to apply for the TechLink program are beginning to arrive in our inbox. Those selected will access the world’s most exciting state of the art technology. This includes 3D printing, video game development, and laser cutting. We are excited about this dynamic partnership with Google, the Administration of Children’s Services, and New Yorkers For Children.

Sadly, while we worked on this project the response I often heard was “foster care is broken”. We cannot and will not accept this defeatist attitude. At Hopeland we are pushing past this broken narrative to find better ways to help vulnerable children.

Getting to this point was not easy – when designing this program we had people say to us “it won’t work, these kids are too troubled.” Hopeland’s values, though, tell us that no one is without hope. The ‘trouble’ that some people see in these youth can in fact sometimes turn into the grit and determination that pushes boundaries and creates new opportunities. Having walked through great adversity, these youth have the empathy to understand what their peers deal with. This means they know how to change their pathway given the right tools and resources.

At Hopeland we understand that innovation is crucial for the development of the foster care sector. Innovation can make the pathways into opportunities, a loving family, and a supportive community that much easier. While innovation can open the door to new ways of working, we cannot forget the human element of service provision. This is why we are putting in place important training to assist the people working with these children, such as trauma informed training.

Technology can help connect children with families and help the life chances of vulnerable children. So every effort must be made to achieve this. This pilot project, if successful, will expand across the U.S. in a major strategy to improve the lives of America’s most vulnerable young people. Our hope is that this innovative approach and spirit, can also benefit other communities. We know vulnerable young people will find great value in the opportunities TechLink offers.

The digital revolution changed the lives of Americans across the country. Likewise our focus on delivering projects like TechLink for vulnerable young people can have the same life changing effect on them and set them up for great futures. We hope you will follow with us the progress of this revolution for foster youth.

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