San Pasqual Academy located near Escondido is the first residential education campus for foster youth aged 14-24 in the nation. Youth enrolled in the program receive educational, social, and supportive programs to help them transition to higher education and independence. Access operates the Youth Empowerment Services (YES) program that includes career exploration activities, work readiness training, internships, paid part-time employment, leadership training, elective school courses (entrepreneurship skills, computer applications, and multi-media skills), and management of the Dragon’s Lounge, a student-run juice and snack bar. A cornerstone of all these programs is the financial literacy training made possible through Union Bank’s generosity, which all students must successfully complete before graduation.
Internships improve the self-esteem and ability of students to get jobs as they transition off campus and move toward self-sufficiency. Since the program’s inception, over 150 employers have participated in more than 500 paid internship opportunities in career areas such as culinary arts, retail, healthcare, agriculture, auto mechanics, animal care, hospitality, and tourism.
The Qualcomm Technology and Career Information Center, a state-of-the-art technology center on campus, is the hub of activity for the YES Program. The 15,000-square-foot multi-use facility includes a tech lab, career center, video production, and multimedia classrooms, financial literacy center, entrepreneurship incubator space, and career counseling offices.
Financial Literacy Program
Through financial literacy training, students participate in individualized one-on-one coaching, group workshops, and practical experience on how to manage their finances. This is accomplished first by establishing a meaningful and trusting relationship with a financial literacy educator who describes the program components and goals to all incoming students. The unique feature of the program is that services continue throughout the student’s tenure at San Pasqual Academy and post-graduation as they transition to higher education and employment.
Individualized one-on-one coaching includes developing a budget, learning how to keep track of allowances, keeping track of spending habits, setting savings goals, and planning for immediate and long-term needs. Group workshops include subjects such as credit/debit literacy, contracts, housing and paying rent, transportation, car costs and insurance, and others. Periodic guest speakers and field trips to provide real-world context to the information provided. Prior to graduation, students participate in a year-long senior seminar that reviews and reinforces the financial literacy information they have learned throughout their time at San Pasqual Academy. After graduation, the counselor stays in touch with the students to provide coaching and assistance as needed
On-campus YES Program services include:
- Work readiness skill training, which includes resume writing, interview skills, work ethics, and job application requirements.
- Multimedia and computer technology courses
- Financial literacy, which enhances independent living skills
- Annual 120-hour internship opportunities
- Middle School student Pre-Employment Traineeship (PET), a stipend on-campus work experience program on campus, which provides coaching on punctuality, work communication, appropriate attire, productivity, and ethics
- Key Club membership, facilitated by YES staff
- Entrepreneurial skills training through participation in the operation of The Dragon’s Lounge, a student-run coffee and juice bar
- Follow-up services for a minimum of one year after graduation to provide support and resources as students transition into adulthood.