OP graduates since June 2020!
Worth of Assets Purchased by OP graduates since June 2020!
Opportunity Passport® is a Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative program at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and is the gold standard of financial management programs for young adults who have experienced foster care. In 2020, Voices teamed up with Ready for Life, a skill-based learning center for young adults transitioning out of foster care, to proudly be the first independent site authorized to deliver the program. With Opportunity Passport® young adults ages 17-29 in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough Counties who have spent at least one day in foster care receive financial literacy training, financial coaching and a savings match up to $3,000 to purchase an asset like a car.
OP Graduate Resource Bank
Here are the Next OP Classes, Contact Us Below to Join!
Car Buying Class: Extra Stipend for OP grads to buy cars!
March 23rd- April 20th
Opportunity Passport Class (Open to Anyone with Foster Care Experience Age 17-29 in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough)
Opportunity Passport Class
USF Opportunity Passport Class (College Student Finance Focus For Current USF Students)
17 Year Old Opportunity Passport Class (Financial Rights Focus For 17 Year Olds in Foster Care in Pinellas and Pasco Counties)
What You Get When You Join OP:
1. Financial Literacy Training
Participants learn how to earn money, budget, save, pay off debt and more in this 5-class online course designed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation specifically for young adults who have experienced foster care. The classes are co-taught by the Director of Financial Empowerment at Voices, Jeanne Joyner, and Vanessa Kasprzyk, a Certified Investment Management Analyst, Sales Executive, and Voices board member who was formerly in foster care. Every young adult receives one-on-one support during the course to answer questions, provide encouragement and assist with real life applications like setting goals, creating a budget and looking up credit reports. After successfully completing the course and opening a bank account, participants receive a $100 stipend to jumpstart their savings. Participants also receive stipends for taking assessments and surveys that provide feedback used to evaluate the success of the program.
2. United Way Suncoast Financial Coaching
Once participants have graduated from the financial literacy course, they connect with a financial coach from United Way Suncoast. The coaches are volunteers with financial experience and are trained in coaching by United Way Suncoast. Opportunity Passport® graduates meet virtually with their financial coach once a month to apply what they learned in the course to reach their specific goals. This individualized support has had a huge impact on our Opportunity Passport® graduates as they successfully reach their goals and become financially capable.
3. $3,000 in Matched Savings to Buy Assets
Thanks to the support of United Way Suncoast, graduates of the program can match dollar for dollar up to $3,000 to purchase qualifying assets that promote their financial capability. Through Opportunity Passport®, young adults in Tampa Bay have purchased assets valuing over $185,000 as of the end of 2022! By purchasing cars, putting down payments on housing, building credit and investing in small businesses, our graduates have become more independent, stable and financially capable. If you are an Opportunity Passport® graduate who is ready to match, complete this Match Request Form to start the match process.
United We Rise, United We Win.
More Opportunities for OP Grads!
Step Up Interest Free Loans
Graduates of Opportunity Passport® may take advantage of an interest free loan of up to $2,500 to purchase a qualified asset. Like the match, the objective of the loan is to propel graduates toward financial stability. Additionally, Voices is working toward obtaining approval to report loan payments to the credit bureaus, which will help build the credit of those that take advantage of this opportunity. To be eligible for the loan young adults must be continuously employed for 6 months and be working with a United Way Suncoast financial coach for at least 3 months. For more information and to apply, contact Jeanne Joyner at [email protected] or use the email feature below.
Voices is partnering with Cetera, an organization that works to increase
networks of support for youth from foster care in areas of education, social
connections and housing, to provide college coaching. College Coaching is an
opportunity for young people who have foster care experience and who are in college (two-year, four-year, technical) to connect with a coach for the duration of
their college career. Coaches will provide support to students as they set goals,
navigate challenges, and celebrate success in all areas of their life. If you are
currently in college or have the goal to start college and are interested in receiving this individualized support, contact Jeanne Joyner at [email protected] or use the email feature below.
Buying a Car Class
Using your match to purchase a car? There is a lot to consider! Avoid the pitfalls of buying a new or used vehicle with this one-night, online class! You’ll learn how to find a car that fits your lifestyle and budget, about the purchasing process and things to be aware of whether buying from a dealer or an individual seller. Plus, when you put what you’ve learned to use, you’ll receive an additional $500 in match money toward the purchase of a car! For more information, contact [email protected] or use the email feature below.
Over Opportunity Passport®’s 15-year history, the curriculum has proven results and has even been adopted and funded statewide by the Department of Children & Families in several other states. As of December 31, 2019, 4,863 young people had purchased 11,590 assets through the Opportunity Passport®. Participant savings and match funds for these purchases totaled over $18,700,000. This means that, over the course of 15 years, young people have saved over $8,000,000 for these asset purchases.
“My name is Falana and I wanted to share with you my recent experience and why it’s never too late to start working on your goals. Now, I will say this first lol never rush your goals based off of others accomplishments; do it at your own pace so you don’t feel rushed or overwhelmed about everything. I would like to share a goal of mine that has been heavy/tricky:
My credit has been a battle for at least 10 years, and I just felt like it was time to take care of business and make that my focus and my priority. Now granted, I knew it would take A LOT and I mean A LOT of work but I was truly determined to get it done through all the hardships. Ready for Life, Suncoast Voices for Children and United Way Suncoast started offering a program called Opportunity Passport, which teaches young adults like myself different skills and class courses such as savings, checking, credit building & more. I was really excited to join the class because I was eager to learn everything, especially if I know it can better my future. I went into the class with a plan and graduated from the class learning a lot more that I needed to know and it was one of the best decisions of my life. Upon completing the program, I had an incentive to match what I had saved which could be used for assets such as housing, vehicles, starting a business and again many other resourceful things to help you to become a more self sufficient adult. After graduating the class, I gave myself an assignment: to save up half of what I needed to save and then the remaining balance would be matched to fix my credit. I created a small vision board on ways to inspire me to fix my credit I turned my vision into a reality. As of April 2021, I paid my credit debt in full!! Now, if you know me, then you would understand this has been a long journey, but I stuck with my plan most importantly I have a wonderful support team who was with me along the way. I want to personally thank all of the volunteers who helped with the program and also Ready for Life and Suncoast Voices for helping me accomplish this goal and also believing in me, especially within the times I didn’t believe in myself. My next goal is to become a homeowner and inspire others to complete one of their goals so they can inspire others as well. I am so thankful for the opportunity that was given to me and I thank you all for helping me to start a better future.”Falana
Interested in joining Opportunity Passport as a young adult, financial coach or other supporter? Do you have questions about the program? Let us know!
Andy is 15 and 6’3”. His family was living in a tent, and Andy became embarrassed to go to school because the other kids knew his living situation and he always smelled bad. Suncoast Voices provided Andy with food, shirts, pants, underwear, socks and shoes, laundry detergent, and personal hygiene items, as well as help with laundering clothes, so he could go to school without feeling ashamed about his life situation that he can’t control.
When Santa Doesn’t Make It
Jenny is four-years-old and living with a non-relative friend who took her in when she was removed from parents that neglected her. She asked Santa for a tricycle, but it never arrived, and she wants to play with her cousins, but their bikes are too big for her. Suncoast Voices used donations from people just like you to give Jenny a Frozen tricycle of her own.
Keeping Babies Safe
One grandma took in three children when one of their fathers was found in a hotel room with the sleeping baby next to a gun and a bag of drugs. The second father broke into Grandma’s home and tried to take the infant, and the other also broke in by busting down the door. Suncoast Voices bought door and window alarms to protect the safety of everyone in the house.
Helping Single Dads Stay Afloat
Suncoast Voices, through generous contributions from our donors, was able to provide a crib and a baby swing for a newborn girl who was place in the custody of her father when her mother was rendered unable to care for her because of severe mental health issues. The loving dad is renting a room and trying to work more to be able to financially support his child, but he can’t afford everything she needs, so the items from Suncoast Voices were invaluable to her well-being and his peace of mind.
Bella is four and has been neglected most of her life. Before entering foster care, she never saw a dentist or had medical attention, and she possibly had never had a toothbrush in her mouth. When she entered foster care, the extent of her dental problems was discovered. A pediatric dentist determined she needed six teeth extracted, three teeth filled, and two spacers fixed, as well as a surgery to remove a painful abscess in her mouth that was making it difficult for her to eat. Sunshine Medicaid would not cover the cost of the surgery because it required anesthesia, so Suncoast Voices, with the help of our generous donors, stepped up and covered the entire cost so Bella could have relief.
A few days before Thanksgiving, Benjamin and Brian, ten-year-old twins, were abandoned suddenly by their parents, who made no attempt to contact them. They have been placed with an aunt who only had camping cots for them to sleep on and no funds to purchase beds. Suncoast Voices gave them a set of twin beds and comfortable bedding to provide them with some small sense of normalcy in all of the transition.
Filling Hearts And Holes
Four-year-old Didi was found the day before her 5th birthday by a Child Protection Investigator, living with her homeless mother on her mother’s friend’s couch. She had only one dress, that was full of holes, and one toy. Her first question to the CPI was if she knew how to sew. Because of donations we receive from people just like you, Suncoast Voices was able to give Didi a birthday party, with a real cake, new toys, and new shoes and clothes - without holes.
James, who is transgender, was abused by his family. He experienced extreme Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which led to sleep disturbances, panic attacks, anger issues, unrestricted crying, anxiety, paranoia, and horribly depleted self-esteem. He was homeless for some time, and didn’t attempt to communicate with his parents. James persevered, and is now headed for a college education! He has his own place to live, but he has no furniture. Because of the generosity of our donors and our community partner New2UThriftStore, Suncoast Voices was able to provide $400 towards furniture and appliances, so James can create his own home that is safe from hate.
Fourteen-year-old Anthony was abandoned by his mother and is unable to be cared for by his homeless father. He lives in a group home where many abused children go when they are older than prospective adoptive parents will generally take in. He wanted to join the track team, but had no one to pay for his running shoes, so Suncoast Voices provided what he needed through the support of donors like you!
Keeping Siblings Together
Jack, Tom, and Heather (ages eight, ten, and twelve) were removed from their mother because she left them alone more than eight hours a day, and they were often seen outside playing unattended by bodies of water. They now live in separate group homes. Thanks to donations from donors just like you, Suncoast Voices was able to send them to summer camp together, where they will learn how to swim and play, with supervision!
A fire in one house endangered three-month-old twins, who were born prematurely and already had significant breathing issues. While the medical personnel treated them for smoke damage, Suncoast Voices was contacted by Child Protection Investigators to provide them and their two-year-old brother with new clothing and blankets (which had been destroyed in the fire). We were able to give them what they needed immediately, thanks to donors like you!
Beds Of Their Own
Three children (ages twelve, six, and seven months) were removed from their parents’ home because of substance abuse and domestic violence. These precious kids were sent to live in Grandma and Grandpa’s crowded three bedroom house, which was inhabited by no less than seven other people at the time. They found themselves sleeping wherever they could find room (the floor, the couch, etc.). Suncoast Voices was able to give all three children beds of their own through the generous donations of caring people!
Sports And Healing
Daniel, Darlene, and Davey (ages ten, eight, and four) were abandoned by their mother after their dad was sent to prison for domestic violence, and were sent to live with Grandma and three other children. Often, children that witness violence experience a form of PTSD and need to process it through positive physical activity. Thanks to Suncoast Voices and our donors, Daniel will play on a rec flag football team, while Darlene and Davey will play soccer! We purchased cleats and uniforms, and paid the team fees, so that they could have fun, expend their energy, and build healthy relationships with other kids and coaches.
Five-year-old Lily was removed from her mother and now lives with her single father. She wanted to play baseball with the other kids after school, but lacked cleats, and her father could not afford them. Her case worker reached out to Suncoast Voices, who was able to give her new cleats (thanks to donor support) so she could participate!
From Dissonance To Harmony
Anna Lisa was removed from her parents at age 12, and sent to live with Grandma and three other siblings. She is a talented violinist, but had outgrown the instrument the school had been providing. Because of donations we received, Suncoast Voices was able to give her a violin of her own that was the right size and quality for her musical ability, so she can keep developing her talent and cope with her pain through music!
Tiffany turned 18, and is now transitioning out of the foster care system. 20% of children who age out become instantly homeless, and Suncoast Voices (along with our community partner New2UThriftStore) was able to provide items such as appliances and furniture for Tiffany’s apartment so that she did not join that number.
A Night To Remember
The costly nature of senior year is something that foster kids simply can’t afford. Suncoast Voices gave two 17-year-old girls living in foster care tickets for the prom, prom dresses and shoes, and hair and makeup accessories so they could have a special evening even though their families were torn apart by trauma.
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