TeenForce merges with Silicon Valley Children’s Fund

Jul 10, 2017 No Comments by

Alliance member TeenForce in San Jose has joined forces with its long-time partner Silicon Valley Children’s Fund in a move designed to strengthen its services to help foster youth successfully transition out of care and on to professional career paths. John Hogan, founder and CEO of TeenForce, will serve as Vice President, Career Services of the combined organization.

John launched TeenForce in 2010 as a social enterprise that would create opportunities for high school and college-age youth to earn money and gain work experience. Within a couple years, foster youth accounted for as high as 75% of TeenForce’s candidate pool. As a result, the business became less driven by employer demand than the needs of these jobs seekers which, in the absence of family support or due to recovery from trauma, required greater soft-skills training and coordination of support services with external providers.

TeenForce found it could connect foster youth with entry-level employment, but with no post-secondary plan, most lacked a clear path beyond low-wage jobs, especially in a region dominated by the high-tech industry. This led TeenForce and Silicon Valley Children’s Fund to partner on the Foster Youth STEM and Work Readiness Training in 2015, a program that combines extra-curricular classroom training during high school with paid summer internships with area employers.

The success of the STEM initiative has informed TeenForce’s new model to engage foster youth at the beginning of high school, and begin exposing them to professional work environments where they can learn new skills and build personal networks while also finding their passion. John and his partners at Silicon Valley Children’s Fund envision a 10-year pathway of education and employment support, from age 14 to 24, for all 300 or so high school-aged foster youth in Santa Clara County.

TeenForce will continue to use its staffing business for paid internships and job placements that enable foster youth to earn income and develop soft skills while they pursue higher education. John notes that the internships are marketed to businesses as “corporate social responsibility” jobs, and the plan is to convert these employer relationships into recruiting pipelines for candidates as they move into and complete college. Complementing the employment piece, Silicon Valley Children’s Fund provides educational coaches and college scholarships to foster youth from high school through completion of post-secondary education.

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