Oct 17, 2019

You are helping Lucas succeed in school!

LAYC Housing building
LAYC Housing building

Lucas is a dedicated student who faced many challenges along his academic journey, including homelessness. He found a place to live and was connected to the resources he needed to succeed in LAYC’s housing program. Here is his story:

 I love education. I want to continue to study a lot, and I want to know everything. By going to a university I can start to do that. I want to set an example to many people showing them that it is not easy to follow your dreams, but not impossible to learn many new things.”

Despite Lucas’ passion for learning, he encountered multiple obstacles to his academic his home country of Honduras, and ultimately had to leave school to work and support his family. His academic progress was further disrupted when he was 17 years old, when he traveled to the United States.

Lucas remembers, “The first day school was difficult. I was pretty lost in a school that was so big. The teachers were kind, but I did not understand the language. Despite the challenges I faced, after the first day I just wanted to be in school. I went to school at 7:40am and left at 6:00pm. I was able to go on many school trips to museums and learned a lot of things that I would not have learned in my home country.”

On top of entering a new school, in a new language, Lucas had to find housing. This past year, Lucas has been working hard with his LAYC case manager in LAYC’s Transitional Living Program to achieve various goals. He enrolled in a health insurance program and enrolled in summer school to complete his educational requirements more quickly.

According to LAYC staff, Lucas has a positive attitude, is always smiling, and makes it a point to support other youth around him. It came as no surprise that Lucas joined LAYC’s Latino Youth Leadership Council, which works to amplify the voices of Latino youth and advocate on their behalf.

Lucas’ sense of security and well-being has greatly improved this year. In addition to continuing his education, he is maintaining a job in a restaurant, and taking time to enjoy his hobbies of painting and listening to music. Lucas has now enrolled in college and is pursuing a major in architecture.  With the support of LAYC staff, he secured a scholarship to enroll in two college courses for free. 

 “From these experiences I learned that no matter how difficult the journey is, one should never give up. I will never stop until I reach all my dreams and beyond, because fulfilling these dreams will help show people like me that they can do it too.”

Thank you so much for supporting LAYC’s homeless youth programs. Your contribution is vital to our work connecting youth like Lucas to stable housing and employment so that they can make a successful transition to adulthood.


President and CEO

Jul 11, 2019

James' journey from homeless teen to engineering undergrad

Youth high school graduation celebration
Youth high school graduation celebration

James, a formerly homeless youth who was struggling to achieve his dreams of attending college and finding meaningful employment, has now completed high school, been accepted to college with several scholarships, and is even enjoying a summer lifeguard gig!

Read James’ story here:

James was raised in an ultra-conservative religious community, along with five siblings. After he developed basic reading and writing skills, His academic studies were halted so that he could focus solely on studying the religious text. James had no access to libraries or the internet, and was discouraged from pursuing further life experience or knowledge outside of his religious community. However, James sensed he would achieve great success and fulfillment along further educational pathways, if he was just presented with opportunities to realize his full potential.

At the age of 17, James left the community, which also meant giving up the only family he had ever known. James began a new life on his own, stopping in different cities where he hoped to find a job and eventually attend college. However, his homeless status, lack of a high school diploma, and absence of a support network, made pursuing these goals a challenge.

Fortunately, James moved to DC and was connected to the DC Reengagement Center and LAYC. He was able to enroll in school and obtain shelter, food stamps, and health insurance. After a couple of months in a shelter, James joined LAYC’s three-week host homes program and, upon turning 18, he joined LAYC’s 18-month transitional living program. In these programs, he accessed a wide range of services and supports that provided safety and peace of mind, and made it possible for him to realize his educational goals.

From James:

During my time with LAYC, the staff helped me go shopping for clothes, get my learner’s permit, set up a bank account and credit card, obtain mental health services, and [set up medical appointments], among other things. It was the peace of mind that I got from having a place to stay and staff who were always happy to help me with anything I needed that allowed me to complete high school, be accepted to college, receive several scholarships, and get a summer job as a lifeguard during this time. The program even covered my college acceptance fee and an eye appointment that was not covered by insurance.”

While involved in LAYC’s housing programs, James also took advantage of recreational and social activities, and he celebrated his journey and accomplishments with other LAYC youth at a high school graduation party.

Along his journey, James found confidence and hope for his future. He remains motivated and continues to reach for the stars.

“I’m going to Iowa State University this August and I plan on majoring in aerospace engineering. I hope to then get a master’s in business administration, with the ultimate goal of starting my own aircraft manufacturing company.”

I am so proud of the fact that LAYC staff serve and support youth from all walks of life as they transition to adulthood. James’ story is one of thousands of testimonies that youth facing challenging circumstances can thrive and achieve meaningful goals with the support of caring adults and comprehensive, individualized supports.

Thank you for believing in and supporting youth like James!

Lupi Quinteros-Grady
President and CEO

Apr 12, 2019

Meet Noely!

Dear Friend,

A 2018 DC Point-in-Time Count of the city’s homeless registered 6,904 individuals, including 417 unaccompanied youth. The majority of these youth were between the ages of 18 and 24. Many have recently immigrated to the US and need comprehensive support to surmount multiple challenges as they transition to adulthood. Through your support of LAYC’s housing programs, immigrant and other homeless youth like Noely find stable housing, wraparound services, and a caring support network enabling them to achieve their personal and professional goals. Here is Noely’s inspiring story:

Noely arrived in the US from Central America in 2016. When unexpected family difficulties arose shortly after her arrival, she was left on her own to face the challenges of being an immigrant youth with no place to live. She felt hopeless, having no other contacts to rely upon for support or guidance in her new country.

However, her Noely’s outlook changed when she was connected with dedicated and caring staff at Latin American Youth Center. After receiving temporary housing and other services through another nonprofit, she was referred to LAYC’s 18-month Transitional Living Program in October 2018. The program provided safe and secure housing through a host family, dedicated case managers and mentors, connections to employment and education, and assistance navigating the immigration process.

Noely is now studying at YouthBuild, an alternative DC high school, and is maintaining a part-time job. Her case manager says she never misses a case management appointment and is an amazing student with perfect attendance and excellent grades. She has big dreams to become a nurse, to better help her mother, who battles chronic illness. Noely’s employer values her as a hard-working team member. She is making the most of her employment by regularly contributing to a savings account, and sending her mother money to assist with medical bills. She is committed to fulfilling her personal responsibilities in the immigration process, and never misses a court date. Not only is Noely making huge strides academically and professionally, but she is also cultivating supportive relationships. She has a positive relationship with her host mom, has made many friends in the program, and frequently participates in activities with other youth and host families. 

Noely’s perseverance and optimism in the face of great odds have enabled her to achieve many of her personal goals. She recently received her work permit, is applying for asylum, and looks forward to taking her GED exams soon, now that she has the required ID.

Support from donors like you has been critical to Noely’s success. Please consider donating to help more young people facing homelessness, like Noely, receive the support they need to thrive and pursue their dreams. Even small donations make a difference by providing youth with essential items, such as a $50 metro card to cover transportation to school, work, and doctor’s visits.

Thank you for your generous support,

Lupi Quinteros-Grady
President & CEO

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