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Michaela is thriving with help from Bridging the Gap

“The hardest thing about being homeless was the internal struggle of having no one that cares about you or your family, and that you are just a number to people,” said Michaela.

When she aged out the child welfare system at age 17, Michaela, a Mile High United Way Bridging the Gap (BTG) participant, struggled with homelessness and a lack of stability. She couch-surfed, stayed in run down motels, and slept in her car when she had nowhere else to turn.

Hundreds of new 18-year-olds exit the child welfare system each year. Nationally, more than one in five will become homeless after age 18, and only about two in five will be employed by age 24.* Without help, these youth are eight times more likely to go to jail than to get a college degree.

Bridging the Gap serves these youth by providing them an independent living coach and a FUP (Family Unification Program) housing voucher; which when paired together, help ensure young people have the resources they need to thrive.

Today, through her hard work, determination, and support of her BTG coach, Michaela is going to school full-time to earn her degree in Biology, with the goal of attending pharmacy school in the future. She is also living in her own apartment and proudly advocates for former foster youth and low-income families.

“My life has changed tremendously since Bridging the Gap. I have completed a year in college. I own reliable transportation. I now have belongings and an actual home to come home to. I have started becoming self-sufficient and have started achieving my goals,” said Michaela.

When asked what she would want people to know about youth who have exited the child welfare system, Michaela said, “the only thing a young person wants is to know that someone is rooting for them.”

Thank you for rooting for Michaela and so many other young people that Mile High United Way’s Bridging the Gap program serves. Your support ensures we can help every person that walks through our doors.

Learn more about Bridging the Gap and how you can help.

*jimcaseyyouth.org