FOSTER YOUTH HAVE BEEN OUR FOCUS FOR 20 YEARS AND COUNTING.
We've always focused on foster youth.
Pivotal’s roots date all the way back to 1989 when a group of community members formed Silicon Valley Children’s Fund (our old name) and teamed up with the County of Santa Clara to build a children’s shelter. The facility, on Union Avenue in San Jose, ran for 13 years until it was sold in 2012. Silicon Valley Children’s Fund reinvested the proceeds from the sale and continued to work with public and private organizations to address the unfulfilled educational needs of foster youth.
Back then, we were called Silicon Valley Children’s Fund. We started a college scholarship program to help more foster youth earn a college degree. Trouble was, we had more money than scholarship applicants. 50% of foster youth were dropping out of high school and only a few were headed to college. Obviously, a scholarship program wasn’t enough. We needed to increase the high school graduation rate!
We partnered with the Department of Family and Children’s Services and County Office of Education and created a stellar academic support program for 9th-12th graders. We brought on graduate interns in social work as high school coaches, and also gave them a valuable forum for gaining professional experience. Success! Foster youth in our program graduated high school at a rate 25 percentage points higher than their foster youth peers! With more high school graduates - and scholarships to give out - it was time to get them to college.
Once our foster youth got into college, the pressures of managing school and life in foster care was a lot to handle. A lot of them asked, "Could we have coaches like the ones we had in high school?" You bet! So, we created a college-level academic support program and partnered with local community colleges to offer it to foster youth who were enrolled on their campuses. With the program in place, 89% of our students stayed in school (up from 61%). A 10-year pathway of academic support, from freshman year in high school to college graduation was born!
Jobs. Everyone needs one. Soon our college foster youth scholars were asking us, "What types of jobs are out there for my major? How do I search for a job? What's a resume?" And, the big one: "I need a job while I'm in school so I can make ends meet!" They asked us to add employment and career support services to our services, and of course, we started to consider our options.
Enter TeenForce, a Silicon Valley non-profit with a solid reputation for finding foster youth jobs. They were already working with more than 100 local employers to provide summer internships for foster youth! In 2017, we merged with TeenForce, put more heads together, and expanded our list of services offered, so we could achieve a wider impact in the lives of foster youth.
Ah, 2018. A pivotal year to make pivotal changes in the lives of pivotal people. That should clue you into why we are now called PIVOTAL.