Bridging the G.A.P.

After years of research, we are excited to narrow down our focus and find a true need in the Columbus area where our members can make a big impact. The Junior League of Columbus’ new Signature Project, Bridging the G.A.P. (Guide. Advocate. Provide.), supports youth aging out of the foster care system.

When kids in foster care turn 18, they are no longer part of the foster care system, and many find themselves living alone, without the support, resources, and guidance of a stable family or other caring adults in their lives. Each year in Ohio alone, close to 1,000 youth transition out of the foster care system. The Junior League of Columbus is working diligently to find ways to guide, advocate, and provide for our local youth in need.

Project Guide was developed during the 2020-2021 league year. Based on input from community partners, such as Huckleberry House and Star House (Carol Stewart Village).  Project Guide will offer semi-annual enrichment workshops to young adults aging out of foster care. The topics of the enrichment workshops will vary based on the interests of the youth and the knowledge areas of current JLC members. Potential activities include home decor crafting, a cooking class, or yoga. Workshops will promote self-care and community building and will offer a meal or snack. Through these workshops, the Junior League hopes to guide young adults by providing opportunities for positive interactions and developing a new skill or hobby. The first workshop will be offered this summer 2021 – stay tuned for updates!

Project Advocate focuses on educating members and the community about transitional-age foster youth. In January 2021, State Representative Erica Crawley joined JLC members and shared her story and ways that we can support and advocate for youth in need. In May 2021, during National Foster Care Month, Project Advocate is launching a social media campaign called Fostering Change by Bridging the G.A.P.  The social media campaign will raise awareness for, increase support of, and encourage engagement with young adults aging out of the foster care system. Plans for the month include unveiling an advocacy toolkit, sponsoring a work-attire clothing drive, and sharing social media posts to educate the community and highlight local organizations that support the foster care community.

Through Project Provide, The Junior League of Columbus will provide 105 youth with household necessities to start their new life in their very own studio apartment. In the 2019-2020 league year, we are partnering with other local organizations, including Star House, on the Franklinton Housing Project or newly named the Carol Stewart Village. This $4.5 million project is converting two former motels into 105 studio apartments with a campus-like setting. The complex will primarily support youth ages 18-24 who are homeless or have aged out of the foster care system.

Each unit will have a bathroom, kitchenette, and at least one dedicated parking space. The campus will be designed to create a sense of community with front porches, indoor and outdoor community spaces, a community garden and a different theme in each building.