ywca greater cleveland

Circle of Women Breakfast

Encircling Young Adults with Needed Support

 The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”
– C.S. Lewis


On September 16, nearly 450 friends came together for the YWCA’s Circle of Women breakfast, filling the grand ballroom of the Marriott at Key Center and encircling young women and men in YWCA Greater Cleveland’s NIA (Nurturing Independence and Aspirations) program with caring support. Since its inception, the annual Circle of Women breakfast has raised more than $500,000 to support NIA – support that will have direct and positive impact on the lives of young adults transitioning to self-sufficiency.   

Attendees heard the from-the-heart story of a young woman currently living in YWCA’s Independence Place (a 23-unit permanent supportive housing complex), who provided a glimpse of homeless life for young adults. The morning’s keynote address was passionately delivered by formerCuyahogaCountyfoster child Gabriel Hart, an assignment editor at WEWS Channel 5 and tireless advocate for foster care youth. Gabby shared her story of living in 24 different foster homes before aging out of the system and attaining self-sufficiency, moving many to tears and motivating people across the ballroom to show their support by making on-the-spot donations to the program.


If you were unable to join us in celebrating our Circle of Women program, please consider making an online donation.

To view photos from the event, visit us on Facebook at Circle of Women photos. (Note:  You can use this link to view/share this photo album, even if you don't have a Facebook account.) 

Why NIA (Nurturing Independence and Aspirations)?


Each year inCuyahogaCounty, nearly 200 youth age out of foster care after their 18th birthday. The obstacles they face are considerable. Studies conducted nationally show that within 4 years of emancipation, 25% of these young people have been homeless; 60% have become unmarried parents; fewer than 20% are able to support themselves; 25% report encounters with the legal system; 56% have not graduated from high school; 64% have earnings below poverty level; and 51% are dependent on income assistance through government programs.


The YWCA has responded to the special needs of these young adults with the NIA program--Nurturing Independence and Aspirations – a Trauma-Informed System of Care model focused on permanence, education,employment, housing, physical and mental health, and personal and community engagement for youth 14 to 24 years of age. Under the guidance of a Life Coach, NIA participants pursue educational opportunities, focus on career development, learn the importance of health care, and develop life and parenting skills.


The statistics are startling:

Due to trauma from broken relationships, rates of PTSD in youth formerly in foster care are more than twice that of U.S. war veterans 
NIA provides adults to rely on for a lifetime  

Within four years of exiting from foster care, 24% of young adults have been homeless
NIA provides safe, stable, and affordable housing  

Only 58 percent will graduate high school by age 19, compared to 87 percent of all 19 year olds
NIA provides education and training that enable them to obtain and retain steady employment 

At the age of 24, only half are employed  
NIA helps young people support themselves by obtaining and retaining steady employment

Nearly 100% of former foster youth have a mental health diagnosis and very few have access to adequate health care 
NIA helps young people have access to insurance and to the appropriate services and supports that meet their health needs

One in four will be involved in the justice system within two years of leaving the foster care system
NIA connects young people to the community to achieve their life goals

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