For 30 years now, Living Advantage, Inc., a 501(c)3, has been dedicated to helping at-risk youth. From the beginning, the mission was to provide housing, therapeutic treatment, educational support, and independent living skills to wards of the court in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. After 11 successful years, LA, Inc. aimed for a larger social problem to address—foster youth.
With this newfound mission, LA, Inc., discovered there is a staggering number of foster youth who needed help. According to childwelfare.gov, there are 437,283 children in the national foster care system. Statistics show that this group of children are at high risk for homelessness, incarceration, drug use, and other negative consequences from not having a stable family. LA, Inc., offers services that help children attain academic standards that are grade appropriate. In addition, other programs such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and Introduction to Robotics also known as “Intro to Robo,” were developed to inspire children with career opportunities they can look forward to after completing their education.
LA, Inc., continued to extend its mission by offering services that help children with vital life documents. On average, foster youth move 7 times and will lose personal life documents along the way. These are essential when registering for school or receiving proper medical care. Later in life, the lack of vital life documents becomes even more problematic. Many of life's necessities such as a driver's license, employment, property rentals, etc. are not attainable without verifiable documentation. As a result, LA, Inc., developed eLockbox, a permanent solution by electronically storing vital life documentation. As adults, former foster youth can easily access their records.
To this day, LA, Inc., continues to empower at-risk youth with the resources they need for a better a quality of life.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
BERNICE W. CLAY
Thirty years ago, in September of 1993, founder Bernice W. Clay incorporated LA, Inc. as a non-profit organization. Bernice had a vision to help underprivileged youth in areas of special education, severe emotional/behavioral problems, and speech impediments. During her 20 years as a speech pathologist for the LA Unified School District in Aphasia and Special Education, her passion for helping high-risk youth developed. Finally, in 1996, her dream was realized when the first six-bed group home opened. Bernice passed away just 3 years later, but her daughter Pamela R. Clay and LA, Inc., Board of Directors have continued her mission to help at-risk youth.
OUR LEGACY CONTINUES
PAMELA R. CLAY
Pamela R. Clay is the Executive Director inspired by the legacy of her mother. Pamela's philanthropic focus has helped LA, Inc., hone-in and grow its mission. She chose to concentrate resources on education to prevent the cycle of homelessness and unemployment that plague at-risk youth as adults. She developed programs that highlight the importance of reaching appropriate grade level competency, as well as life-shaping introduction to technology and higher education. This exposure impresses upon children the educational roads that can bring employment opportunities and a stable foundation. In her 24-year tenure, Pamela discovered that 78% of youth don't have the necessary personal vital life documents that are essential for everyday life. This includes milestones such as securing a job, a driver's license, bank accounts, or simply enrolling in school. In response, she developed the patent pending, electronic data storage program called, Electronic Lockbox or eLockbox. Pamela looks forward to having a national impact on foster children by rolling out this technology across the country. That way, no child will have to suffer the impediment of lacking vital records.