By Rev. Nancy Cushman, Janice Grandy, and DSC Communications
“I want to share information about a new ministry at North Scottsdale UMC (NSUMC) called Trinity Opportunity Alliance (TOA). TOA brings employers (mostly from our congregation), non-profits that serve youth and young adults in foster care, and churches together. Grounded in love, justice, and service, this ministry connects youth who have or are preparing to age out of foster care with a sustainable job.” – Rev. Cushman
What is the concern?
According to the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, young people who leave foster care unprepared to live on their own are at risk for becoming homeless soon after discharge. A Fosterclub infographic illustrates additional potential outcomes for foster youth. The Keys to Success program, one of the NSUMC partners that work with youth, is expecting an influx of 100 foster children to enter their program this year. The need for employers and jobs continues to increase, and transportation is a major barrier.
What do you wish?
“Our hearts broke when we heard the number of foster children who wind up homeless. God gave us this vision and partners who share it so that we might change the lives of youth aging out of the foster care system. The church, businesses, and non-profits are working together to provide children in the foster care system with the opportunity for meaningful livable wage employment where they can grow and thrive in adulthood. Our goal is summed up in three words, Ignite, Employ, Thrive. God is blessing and multiplying the fruit of our efforts beyond our expectations. We can’t wait to see what the coming year brings.” – Rev. Cushman
What are you willing to do about it?
- Secure job opportunities: Over the past eighteen months TOA has collaborated with Keys To Success, a program of the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation, and established partnerships with Kroger, Lowes, Spirit Electronics, Humana, La Quinta, and Wells Fargo. To date, 15 youth from KTS have secured employment with TOA employer partners and 27 youth are in the pipeline for jobs.
- Fund Launch packages: The package includes a $100 gift card to shop for a professional looking outfit, readying youth for the workforce. The Christmas Eve offerings raised an excess of $9,000 to fund this effort.
- Donate cars: NSUMC has just awarded their 5th donated car to foster youth in the Keys to Success program.
To find out more about the program or how your church can partner with NSUMC:
- Watch https://youtu.be/kaqkItMuPhQ
- Visit www.toaaz.org
- Contact Janice Grandy, Program Director via email at or by phone (480) 227-7668
If your church is involved in a unique new ministry that other churches can either learn from or collaborate with, contact the Desert Southwest Conference Communications Director, Christina Dillabough at .
North Scottsdale UMC is located at 11735 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254. Rev. Nancy Cushman is the Senior Pastor. 480-948-0529 www.nsumc.com
- National Youth in Transition Database Data Brief #4, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Children’s Bureau (February 16, 2015) http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/nytd-data-brief-4
- Statistics on Foster Care (1-18-16) https://www.fosterclub.com/article/statistics-foster-care
- Infographic: The Facts of Foster Care, FosterClub (1-18-16) https://www.fosterclub.com/sites/default/files/foster-care-infographic.jpg Created by Simons School of Social Work and posted at https://socialwork.simmons.edu/demystifying-the-foster-care-system-infographic