AOI is excited to announce the 2023 award winners!

Our panel of peer judges selected several excellent organizations/programs to be recognized. Congratulations to all the award winners below!

(Look for podcasts coming out in 2024 about these award winning programs.)

Small Organization/Program Winners

This category recognizes organizations or programs that have 1-10 full and part-time employees. The judges for this category have selected four organizations/programs that have outstanding services that deserve recognition this year. Read about the winners below. (Click the logo to go to the winner’s website.)

Chair-ity aims to eliminate the financial and emotional barriers of creating home for young adults coming out of the foster care system. They do so by providing and delivering furniture and household goods to these young adults as they begin independent living. This large financial barrier of purchasing and setting up furniture is often a choice between sleeping in a bed versus making rent for the month or other necessary expenses. By providing these essentials to independent living, Chair-ity believes we are making a step in the direction to help level the playing field between these young adults and their peers. Our community relationships are at the epicenter of what we do. Not only do we ensure their home is a space where they can thrive, but we ensure they are connected with the right resources so that they can maintain this space they were able to create to be solely theirs. (Northeast, OH)
$40,000 prize

“Chair-ity is honored to be receiving this recognition from AOI as a Small Organization Recipient. This grant will have a huge impact on our furniture and delivery program allowing us to serve our youth better. We are excited to learn more from the AOI community of organizations about best practices and innovative ways of care. Thank you, AOI!”
~Maria Paparella, Executive Director

The mission of Family Harvest Farm, a program of John Muir Land Trust, is to engage foster youth in a local food system that encourages healthy living, nurtures the environment, and feeds the community. Family Harvest Farm (FHF) employs transition-age foster youth in a trauma informed, hands-on job-readiness program, teaching marketable skills and preparing them for life outside the foster care system. FHF works with referring foster youth agencies to support youth with wrap around services and to host events and access resources for foster youth and resource families. In addition to growing organic produce for communities in need, the farm hosts educational workshops for the greater community. Family Harvest Farm is regeneratively and organically managed on 3.5-acres in Pittsburg, California. Volunteers work alongside our apprentices in an outdoor and collaborative setting. (Pittsburg, CA)
$40,000 prize

“Family Harvest Farm is thrilled to be recognized by the Aging Out Institute awards committee as a 2023 awards recipient. It is an honor to be recognized among impressive organizations throughout the United States, and by the Aging Out Institute, an organization who supports foster youth nationally with resources and strategies! This support will help us increase the number of foster youth served in East Contra Costa County in California.”
~Hannah Hodgson Katzman, Associate Director of Family Harvest Farm

Central to LIFE Skills Foundation’s approach is the idea that each transition age youth we work with has the fundamental right to a life of happiness, full of possibility and free from oppression. LIFE Skills Foundation assists Transition Age Youth, ages 16-25, with their transition into adulthood. Their suite of services includes Transitional Housing, Independent Housing support, Wraparound support, Parent education for parenting youth, Career and Education services, and Mental Health Services. Through these services, holistic support is provided by focusing on the following six domains: Housing, Education, Health and Wellness, Communication and Building a Support Network, Employment, and Financial Literacy. LIFE Skills recognizes that their participants have their own strengths and challenges, their own likes and dislikes, and their own thoughts and opinions about how to best move forward. LIFE Skills takes great pride in creating individualized programming that allows for their participants to have true input. (Durham, NC)
$40,000 prize

“LIFE Skills Foundation is profoundly grateful to be chosen as a grant recipient by the Aging Out Institute. This grant will allow us to continue to provide the necessary resources to youth aging out of care so that they can have the opportunity to live stable, self-directed lives.”
~Shiesha Bell, MSW, LCSW  Interim Executive Director

THRU Project empowers youth with a history of foster care to build independent, successful futures. They serve youth in Bexar and surrounding counties aging out of the system between the ages of 14-25. THRU Project bridges the gap between foster care and adulthood by providing supportive mentors to their youth to help them build independence. Once youth have a mentor, they can access their other programs. Their educational housing programs provide youth with a stable living environment, including furnished apartments, to allow them to focus on their educational and career goals. In addition to housing, they offer BreakTHRU, a program that offers individualized counseling, occupational therapy, and invaluable peer support groups, all free of charge. They host engaging life skills workshops, facilitate reliable transportation options through bus passes and rideshare, and provide cell phone and data plans to ensure their youth have the tools they need to succeed. Since our inception, THRU Project has bridged the gap for nearly 1,000 youth, guiding them towards a brighter future by helping them realize their full potential. (San Antonio, TX)
$40,000 prize

“It is an honor to be selected by our peers as a 2023 Flame Award Recipient. This year marks THRU Project’s 10th anniversary of serving youth and young adults with a history of foster care. Over the past decade, our mentoring, housing, and wrap-around programs have impacted nearly 1,000 individuals who are striving for brighter, healthier futures. It is a privilege to walk alongside them on their journey to independence, and it because of our network of partners, volunteers, and donors that we are able to help youth thrive and feel empowered.”
~Courtney Laverty, CEO

Mid-Size/Large Org/Program Winners

This category recognizes organizations or programs that have 11 or more full and part-time employees. The judges for this category have selected three organizations/programs that have outstanding services that deserve recognition this year. Read about the winners below. (Click the logo to go to the winner’s website.)

Founded in 2009, KITS is a Los Angeles County-based non-profit organization that helps youth impacted by foster care heal and grow from trauma through the power of storytelling and filmmaking. KITS provides a year-round flagship Script-to-Screen program that empowers foster and underserved youth ages 12-24 to write, cast, and star in their own short films, telling their stories their way. KITS aims to create a pipeline of young Black and Brown leaders in positions of decision-making power. By building the pipeline, KITS pursues the restoration of economic stability and generational wealth for Black and Brown youth. KITS’ workforce development and youth services programs connect youth from foster care with ongoing professional training, internships, and careers in the entertainment industry through its social enterprise, KITS Production Studio with Purpose. The goal is to pursue economic stability and create generational wealth for Black and Brown youth impacted by foster care. (Burbank, CA)
$50,000 prize

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Aging Out Institute and the judges for awarding our organization a $50,000 Fire Award Grant. Your support is a testament to youth in foster care that they are part of a community committed to ensuring their stories get told their way, and that they are not forgotten. Your belief in our mission and impact light the way for our amazing young professionals to be seen, heard, validated, celebrated, and employed, empowering them to dream, express, and thrive by rewriting the narrative for their lives. It takes a village, and we thank you for being the beacon of hope guiding our efforts.”
~Tige Charity, Founder & CEO

YouthCare’s mission is to work to end youth homelessness and to ensure that young people are valued for who they are and empowered to achieve their potential. YouthCare envisions a community where no young person experiences homelessness, all young people have the opportunity to thrive, and the systems that oppress them are dismantled. They serve over 1,600 youth and young adults ages 12-24 who face homelessness and housing instability in the Puget Sound region. Their programs include 16 sites providing long-term housing, 24/7 supportive adolescent shelter, workforce training, job readiness, education support, food and nutrition programs, behavioral health and other services to support these young people in overcoming the cycle of instability, poverty and homelessness. In 2022, YouthCare served 102 clients who had experience with foster care, and so far in 2023 they’ve served 90 clients with foster care experience. (Seattle, WA)
$50,000 prize

“We are grateful that YouthCare has been awarded a $50,000 grant through the Aging Out Institute and we’re especially honored to be awarded alongside these other amazing organizations! We are seeing more youth than ever that need support and resources who are aging out of foster care systems and are experiencing homelessness or at risk of doing so. This funding will make a crucial difference in supporting and empowering these young people and helping them to build bright futures. Thank you, Aging Out Institute!”
~Josh Castle, Senior Director of Community Relations

Treehouse empowers at-risk foster youth by providing education planning, monitoring, coaching, and a range of other services. Their Graduation Success program works with high school youth in foster care, pairing them with a Treehouse Education Specialist who provides educational support and a connection to resources. The Graduation Success program tailors each of its services to the student’s individual needs by partnering with the existing support system in that youth’s life. As a result, students in foster care experience success in the classroom and have access to the resources they need to graduate from high school with a plan for their future. Treehouse’s Graduation Success program currently serves 8th to 12th grade students who have experienced foster care and those who are enrolled in an eligible GED program across Washington state. (Seattle, WA)
$50,000 prize

“Treehouse is deeply honored to have our Graduation Success program recognized by The Aging Out Institute.  We’re especially grateful that through this award, a panel of our peers has recognized the dedicated work of our Education Specialists. Every youth who has experienced foster care deserves opportunities and the support they need to pursue their dreams for the future. We’re humbled by the resilience and tenacity of the youth we serve as they reach for their goals and launch into adulthood.  Thank you, Aging Out Institute for this grant to help us continue this work in a meaningful way.”
~Dawn Rains, CEO

Youth Impact Winner

This category recognizes organizations or programs (any size) that have an effective process for measuring and tracking the impact of their services on the youth they serve, as well as the demonstration of actual positive impact on their youth over time. The judges for this category have selected one organization that has outstanding strategies for measuring the impact that their services have on their youth. Read about the winner below. (Click the logo to go to the winner’s website.)

For 50 years, the Ohio Children’s Alliance has partnered with community agencies, youth, families, and policymakers to advance change, improve lives, and help their kids and young adults reach their fullest potential. The Ohio Children’s Alliance’s Youth Empowerment and Support Programs seek to close opportunity gaps and galvanize transition-age foster youth to gain skills, resources, and confidence in their voices. The programs provide a particular focus on helping youth attain meaningful education and career advancement opportunities, be pivotal influences in state decision making efforts in child welfare, and continue life skills development in a supportive and resource-rich environment. In addition to providing direct supports and resources, the Ohio Children’s Alliance leverages community partnerships to ensure that youth aging out achieve and maintain important connections with peers, mentors, and other caring people in their lives. This combination of direct supports, youth-driven advocacy, and network building will support long-term fulfillment. (Columbus, OH)
$90,000 prize

“The Ohio Children’s Alliance is honored to have been named the 2023 Youth Impact Award winner from the Aging Out Institute. This grant will support strategic efforts to equip transition-age foster youth for sustained success. We are grateful to have been recognized by child welfare peers across the country for our work and are excited to make an even greater impact in this space.”
~Mark Mecum, CEO