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Camellia Network partners with Youth Villages to enhance and expand network serving former foster children

August 19, 2015

LifeSetNetwork

Camellia Network, a nonprofit crowdfunding and social support platform to help former foster children, has merged with national nonprofit Youth Villages to enhance and expand the service, Camellia Network founder and best-selling author Vanessa Diffenbaugh announced today.

“This is exciting news for all of us who support former foster children through the Camellia Network,” Diffenbaugh said. “As a partner with Youth Villages’ renowned YVLifeSet program, the Network will be able to help many more young people who need our support. This partnership marries the Network’s technology and innovation with the national leader in social innovation and ‘doing what works’ for kids in foster care. We couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Renamed the LifeSet Network, www.LifeSetNetwork.org, to reflect the new partnership, the website will continue to allow participants to help young people transitioning out of foster care attain their goals by crowdfunding needs registries the young people have designated essential to achieving a particular goal. For instance, supporters can buy a laptop for a young person who is entering college or a set of sheets and towels for a young person who is moving into her first apartment.

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Diffenbaugh started Camellia Network four years ago with the proceeds from her best-selling book “The Language of Flowers,” and it has since given more than 300 former foster youth the chance to connect with more than 1,600 supporters who provide resources and helping relationships. The author’s second novel, “We Never Asked for Wings,” about motherhood and the challenges faced by immigrant families, was released Tuesday.

“We are immensely proud of what the Network has accomplished so far,” said Diffenbaugh, also a member of Youth Villages’ national board of directors. “But with 23,000 children aging out of the foster care system every year, we needed to find a way to scale bigger faster. Youth Villages is the perfect partner for that. Our supporters are excited about the opportunity to help more young adults and to have the advanced features the new website offers.”

Youth Villages’ YVLifeSet program has helped more than 8,000 young people make a successful transition to adulthood since it began in 1999. The program’s focus on this most vulnerable population of youth is an intense one, with YVLifeSet specialists on call 24/7 for young people participating in the program. Specialists help the young people navigate all aspects of new adulthood, including budgeting, finding stable housing, completing education, finding and keeping employment and developing healthy relationships.

In addition to supporting emerging adults participating in Youth Villages’ own programs, the new LifeSet Network will continue to seek strategic partnerships with various other programs serving former foster youth. A pilot phase with participants in Youth Villages’ YVLifeSet program will lead to further enhancements in the Network as it is scaled to serve more young people. The Network’s goal is to provide an easy way for supporters to connect with young people in the YVLifeSet program and similar programs and fulfill their needs lists.

LifeSetNetwork.org’s updated responsive design will offer such new features as the ability to complete a young person’s registry with one click and enhanced search functions to help users more quickly find a young person they’re able to help.

“The LifeSet Network lets folks who want to support these young people who are close to achieving an important life goal easily help them with some concrete needs – the same way a parent would,” said Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler. “This platform helps showcase the incredible potential of these young adults and democratizes funding so virtually anyone can help.”

This merger follows Youth Villages’ recent completion of a rigorous, randomized trial of its YVLifeSet program, showing positive one-year results. The study, designed by The University of Chicago and conducted by the non-partisan social science research nonprofit organization MDRC, followed more than 1,300 young adults who had aged out of foster care or juvenile justice placements in Tennessee. The researchers found that, one year after program completion, the young people who participated in Youth Villages’ YVLifeSet services had achieved increased earnings and greater economic well-being, experienced better mental health, had greater housing stability and were less likely to be involved in a violent relationship than young people from the same backgrounds who received other services available in the community. For more information about the study, visit www.MDRC.org.

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