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Interfaith Community Services has launched its Housing 2019 program, which aims to prevent and end homelessness for at least 2,019 people by the end of 2019. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Interfaith’s transitional youth program a success

REGION — Support is just one of the many missions for Interfaith Community Services.

Not only does the Escondido nonprofit work to rehouse the homeless or prevent homelessness, it also offers assistance to high school students through its Transitional Youth Academy.
The goal is to provide help for disadvantaged students at El Camino and Carlsbad high schools, whether on they’re on the verge of homelessness, in need of money for college applications or other financial constraints, according to Interfaith Executive Director Greg Anglea.

But money is needed, so Interfaith solicited The Parker Foundation for a grant-matching drive for up to $25,000, which is ongoing. In addition, Interfaith received $20,000 from AT&T plus and a committed $25,000 donation from the foundation for a total of $95,000, assuming the match is met.

“We had one student last year who couldn’t afford a computer …  and how do you get through school these days without a computer?” Anglea asked. “We bought her a computer and that was the start of the engagement.”

If the fundraising drive meets its goal, Interfaith will have collected $95,000 to sustain the program at both schools. Currently, Anglea said, only El Camino has the funding, so the nonprofit is pushing its drive so Carlsbad High can remain.

The program began 15 years ago at El Camino and expanded to Carlsbad High several years ago after another program focused on Oceanside residents, Anglea said. Students are assigned caseworkers, who are at each campus, and assist with issues the kids are working through.

Last school year, meanwhile, the program had 75 seniors combined at both schools netting a 100% graduation rate, Anglea said. Those students either enrolled in post-secondary education institutions or the military, he added.

“I feel like it’s a real prevention program and meets kids when they’re on the precipice of making mistakes,” said Amber Rizkalla, Interfaith’s director of employment and economic development. “They work with our mentors and have really great outcomes. They put youth on a great trajectory.”

School staff, she said, refers most of the students and engage in academic mentoring, gang prevention and enroll in post-secondary education. The program also offers guest speakers discussing leadership, while it incorporates 40 developmental assets and positive support needed to succeed such as setting expectations, goals, time management and form positive identities.

As for The Parker Foundation, Chief Administrative Officer Robin Powell said Interfaith’s application struck a chord with its grants board, thus being awarded a $25,000 donation and the $25,000 matching opportunity.

“What is appealing about the Transitional Youth Academy is that it is taking proactive steps in changing the course of poverty in North County by working with high school students,” Powell said. “Not only do they work with students offering academic mentoring, dropout prevention, work force development, peer support, and leadership development, but they also use Interfaith’s comprehensive wrap around services to provide holistic support to the family such as nutrition, supportive services, housing, tax preparation and employment services.”