Once, they symbolized the independence we craved.

But quickly we learned they weren’t magic tools. Like everything about becoming an adult, they came with complexities we often learned the hard way. Fortunately, we were surrounded by caring people who helped us through and provided a safety net.

Since 2021, more than half of the Children’s Home graduates who transitioned into independent living faced homelessness within a year. Several became pregnant. Like us, they struggled with the journey to adulthood. Unlike us, they lacked a safety net.

We want to be that safety net. The Independence Project will support graduates who need that extra help to get on their feet … and second chances when they stumble. It will provide safe and stable housing for graduates, along with coaching, counseling, and support with everything from getting a driver’s license to landing a good job to learning how to stretch a paycheck.

The Independence Project grew from conversations with current students who were nearing their own transitions. When we asked what they needed to know, they responded with a long list of topics most of us simply take for granted. But for these young adults who are eager to move from troubled childhoods to successful, independent adult lives, they’re absolutely critical.

We’ll create spaces where we can help them understand what they need to succeed … like making good choices. We’ll soon launch a pilot with a handful of graduates to help us identify the most effective ways to help. Our hope is to use what we learn to create a facility designed for this purpose. The ultimate goal is seeing more of our graduates achieve stable, independent, productive lives … and using our experience as a model that can be replicated.

We’ve long stepped in to help young people emerging from unimaginable trauma, abuse, and neglect achieve some normalcy, but we’ll accomplish even more by supporting them after graduation. We anticipate that the pilot will immediately increase the number of graduates who are able to enjoy truly independent, stable, and rewarding lives … delivering a second chance that’s far happier and healthier than their early years.

Every dollar invested in The Independence Project will help graduates struggling to find their feet become productive members of Indiana communities. It’s attainable … and it’s a way to start making a real difference right away. We just need the key to get started.