Amy Lemley: A Smooth Transition to Adulthood for Foster Youth
My work: guiding former foster youth through the critical transition period from foster child to independent adult.
This profile was prepared when Amy Lemley was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Amy Lemley launched her organization–First Place–in 1998, in Oakland, California, working closely with the county to identify and serve the former foster youth population. Each year in the United States, more than 25,000 young people are discharged from foster care when they reach legal age. These teenagers "age out" of the foster system only to find themselves with no place to live, no sustainable income, and limited educational prospects. First Place helps former foster youth secure their "first place" by providing microloans. The organization was the first in the nation to provide permanent, affordable housing to this segment of low-income youth. And through its innovative, community-housing programs and alliance-building initiatives, First Place is transforming the foster care system in the United States.