February may be the shortest month, but it’s full of significance and important occasions. Black History Month, Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, and other observances are all packed into 29 days.

At NFYI, we’ll be spending Leap Day moving our work and fundraising efforts forward. February 29th also marks the end of Black History Month, an important reminder of the connection between civil rights, racial equality, and the welfare of children and families.

With only 29 days, NFYI has lots of work to do. Here’s what we’ve been up to in 2016 so far.
Apply for the Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Program
If you have spent time in foster care and will be 18 to 24 years old by May 23rd, here’s an amazing opportunity!
The Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Program is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where former foster youth from around the country fly to Washington DC, work closely with their Member of Congress, learn how our government works, and suggest improvements to child welfare policy. If you are selected, your travel and other expenses will be covered. The deadline to submit your application is Thursday, March 18, 2016. Don’t miss out.Apply today!

Open House for Our New Office

Some things call for a celebration. Moving into a new office is one of those things! Last month, NFYI hosted an Open House and invited our Board Members, foster youth leaders, supporters, community allies, and friends to check out our new digs. The event was a big success! We had nearly 75 attendees, generated excitement for our upcoming campaigns, and raised nearly $1,000 from generous donors. Many thanks to everyone who was able to join us, and a special acknowledgement to Congressmember Karen Bass for stopping by and lending her continued support.

Make Our Wishlist Come True
After settling into our new office, we realized a few things will make the space more inviting to young leaders, foster families, and superstar volunteers. So we wrote a wishlist and are putting out a call for donations. With your help, we hope to set up a computer lab for foster youth, furnish our entrance to make a comfortable gathering place for young organizers, and stock our computer lab with all the equipment our interns and volunteers need. Here are some of the items we’re looking for:
• Laptop Computers • Professional Digital Camera • Table Lamps
• Armchairs • Folding Chairs • Photocopier

We would be extremely thankful if you are able to pitch in. All donations are tax deductible. Please email [email protected] or call (213) 221-1176 to help.

100,000 Opportunity Initiative
On February 11th, our staff represented NFYI at the 100,000 Opportunity Initiative held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. More than 4,000 enthusiastic young people attended this fair and forum to learn job skills, find employment, and connect with local support services. We were proud to join 32 companies and 28 other community organizations to educate foster youth and their allies about NFYI’s mission, programs, and campaigns. It was energizing to interact with dozens of eager 16 to 24 year olds who are ready to make their mark on the world!

New Job Shadow Alums
Congratulations to our 12 new Job Shadow alumni from Cohort VIII! In total, 101 foster youth have participated in this transformative job readiness experience and hands-on training program. Alumni say the program has given them new confidence and helped prepare them for future success. None of this would be possible without our amazing community partners, experienced trainers, and dedicated worksite mentors. Special thanks and recognition to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for their support of this program over the past two years.

Meet Gia, Intern Extraordinaire
After serving as one of our regular and outstanding volunteers, Gia Pendergraph started her internship at NFYI in the beginning of February. She immediately dove into the work and is assisting our organizing and communications departments. Here’s a fun fact. Gia loves all kinds of fruit. She collects seeds from fruit she eats and plants them wherever she goes.

It’s a pleasure to have her dynamic, new energy in the office. Please help us welcome her to the team! If you are interested in volunteering or interning with us, email [email protected] or call (213) 221-1176.

The year is off to a roaring start. And there are big things coming in the months ahead, including hosting Congressional Dinners & Policy Roundtables in Washington DC, continuing our National Listening Tour, enhancing our online organizing, expanding ourLeadership Corps, and implementing our Strategic Plan.

Our work to improve the lives of foster youth and their families is going to need your support. To fulfill our mission, we are looking for active leaders, volunteers, social media ambassadors, and yes…individual donors. Any contribution you can make contributes greatly to our success.

Let’s keep this year’s momentum going by continuing to build grassroots power across the country. Can we do it? I know we can. The question is, are you ready to make the leap?

Happy Leap Day,

Lilla Weinberger
Executive Director