B:E coaches young people who have experience in foster care or probation by providing housing, crisis informed coaching and a myriad of job and employment development and education supports. Working together we can build vibrant communities.
Real LifeBarbara learned to develop a strong sense of herself at a young age. She had to. Barbara and her four siblings were raised in Oakland by their cousin. Their mother struggled with drug addiction, and "it wasn't a safe environment," says Barbara. While her cousin furnished the basics, "a roof over my head and food on the table," she notes, "there were a lot of things like love and support that were missing."
Barbara credits the Alameda County Independent Living Skills Program (ILSP) and Beyond Emancipation as the catalysts that allowed her to define her identity. Although it was "hurtful" not knowing who her biological parents were, "I started to accept my identity when I took ILSP classes with youth who have similar backgrounds."
She graduated from ILSP in 2006, determined to attend college. "B:E supported me when I really needed the help doing my college career," she says. With additional support from her boyfriend of six years and two close friends whom she says are "like a team" for her, Barbara recently graduated from San Francisco State with a degree in Criminal Justice.
Now she mentors her younger sisters - one of whom is attending Sacramento State - and is raising a 16 month old daughter to boot. The future looks bright, mostly because of her positive attitude: "I think I'm the most important person to myself because I have a lot of self-confidence and self-determination."She is now in the Cal State East Bay MSW program.