Families participating in our program have been homeless or are at extreme risk of homelessness. They have recently moved into or identified permanent housing. Families are referred to us through the Los Angeles County Coordinated Entry / Family Solution System. Parenting Transitional Age Youth, who are aging out of the foster care system and have children of their own, are also referred to us. Families cannot self-refer.
Candidates must be:
- vulnerable to enter or return to homelessness
- ready and willing to actively participate in our program
- willing to receive guidance
- transparent about their finances and any personal challenges like addiction
First and foremost, volunteer mentors are individuals who raise their hand to get involved. They may join us from community groups, partner companies, faith communities or simply have a passion to help others. They are adults, homemakers, professionals, retirees, millennials and boomers, united by a desire to share their skills and life experiences to help families in need.
How it Works
Once both families and mentors are identified, our staff matches them based on best fit and geography. Mentors attend a four-hour onboarding training and finish equipped to help a family reach three main goals: maintain housing, attain self-sufficiency, and thrive. Mentors also participate in quarterly topical trainings. Every family member older than five is paired with his or her own mentor, and the family is partnered with a household financial wellness mentor. Mentors are grouped into three- to seven-person teams and assigned to a single family. Teams help with:
- Advocacy and Access (to benefits and other health, legal and social services)
- Job and Life Skills
- Budgeting and Financial Literacy
- Special Needs Projects
- Career Development and Job Readiness Training
- Child Development and Positive Parenting
- College Prep
- Health Care
- Meal Planning
- Stress Management
- … and more
Throughout the 12- to 18-month program, an Imagine LA Family Team Manager helps the families clarify their goals and access resources, while guiding the mentor teams to support their families via in-person meetings 2x/month, and weekly texts and calls.
- Since 2008 our professional staff has trained and guided 500+ volunteer mentors to work with 100+ families. The model works.
- Every family remains in housing.
- Adults increase their earned income by an average of 71% and decrease debt by 68%.
- Children reach developmental milestones and achieve at grade level.
- High-schoolers graduate and pursue higher education; we now have college graduates with solid jobs.
- Participants (adults and children) are pursuing wellness and are up-to-date on medical and dental exams.