The Mission of Connections to Independence is to provide unique programming and advocacy for foster care youth, ages 15 - 21, to promote a successful and healthy transition to living independently as they reach adulthood.
Connections to Independence (C2i) is a stand-alone non-profit organization that established its 501(c)3 status in July of 2010. However, C2i began in 2002 as a program of Summit Academy OIC in North Minneapolis. Summit Academy exists to train low-income people for living-wage careers in construction and health care. Over the years, Summit had added supportive educational programming that was aimed at children and young adults.
The Connections program was created to address the high number of youth who were reconnecting with County services post emanicaption but more so the high population of youth of color of color who were in the foster care system. It was also launched as an attempt to improve the long-term outcomes of this population, specifically to reduce the number of foster care clients reconnecting with the system via incarceration, utilizing homeless shelters, and having open child protection cases of their own.
Summit Academy OIC and Hennepin County partnered to develop the Connections Program to address the lack of stability among youth placements and to prepare them for a successful transition to self-sufficiency and independent living. As a result, C2i remains focused on these original core components.
In June of 2009, the Summit Academy Board of Directors and President made the necessary decision to narrow the school's mission to focus more strictly on its core constituency. This allowed the opportunity for the Connections Program to transition into its own non profit organization. C2i has now moved to South Minneapolis and is housed in Sabathani Community Center. C2i is now able to solicit its own funding and partnerships to further its mission and serve more youth in foster care.
Where We Work
What We Do
C2i prepares foster youth for living independently as they get closer to reaching adulthood and aging out of the foster care system. Participants are between the ages of 15-21 and focus on a healthy mind, body, and soul approach to learning independent living skills. Youth are assigned an Independent Living Skills Counselor (ILSC) who they work with until they exit the program. Working with the same ILSC helps establish stability, trust, and a genuine caring and healthy relationship with an adult. Relationship development has been C2i's key to success and great outcomes. All services are based on the promotion and development of a healthy mind, body, and soul philosophy with embedded independent living skills and a specific focus on practical matters such as securing housing, education, and employment, as well as personal matters such as moral, social, and personal development. These components are implemented through various techniques including lectures, group activities, individual goal development, one-on-one time with counselors, guest speakers, field trips, civic engagement, exposure to the arts and physical activities (yoga, horseback riding, bicycling, etc). The goal is to develop the whole person in addition to a core focus on obtaining education, housing and employment. When C2i youth exit the program they will be able to support themselves and find the community resources necessary to achieve self-sufficiency. Exposure to community resources and self-advocacy is a year-round focus for youth and staff. Youth focus more on housing, post secondary education, and employment as they get closer to aging out of ...See More the system and start working with After Care Services. C2iâ€™s outcomes have been sustainable and are based on relationship development. Independent Living Skills Counselors (ILSC) focus on developing meaningful relationships with youth and meeting them where they are, rather than having a one-plan-fits-all approach. Show Less