It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention. So when Brittiney Jones saw a need for a nonprofit that catered specifically to foster teens in Chicago, she created her own.
“I wanted to volunteer, mentor and give back to an organization geared toward foster youth,” says Jones, founder of Chicago Youth Opportunities Initiative (CYOI). “Being emancipated at 16 really forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and survive. I had to learn how to pay bills, how to save, and more importantly how to grow.”
Jones, who credits Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou and Jada Pinkett-Smith among her role models, describes growth as the process of accepting your circumstances and then prospering in spite of them.
“Our mission for CYOI is to increase the high school and higher education graduation rate of foster care and ward of the state youth (ages 16-21) in the city of Chicago,” she says. “Furthermore, we’re able to assist these youth in their transition to their desired career field and assist them with accomplishing their goals through mentoring, college readiness, tutoring, career workshops, personal growth and financial support.”
Founded in late 2014, CYOI includes a youth development program, which offers mentoring and specialized seminars for foster youth focused on their passions and overall well-being.
“Everything our program offers will help develop skills necessary for personal and professional success,” Jones explains. “I live and breathe CYOI and I believe thats how everyone should feel about whatever it is they are doing with their lives in some aspect.”
To learn more about Chicago Youth Opportunities Initiative and get involved, please visit facebook.com/Chicagoyoi.
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