A Brilliant Life Foundation helps foster children succeed
Sometimes when we humans get in a tough spot, we make all kinds of pacts with God, with ourselves – we say most anything to show we will change if we get out of the mess we’re in. The founder of A Brilliant Life Foundation actually kept a pact she made when she was just 9 years old. After her mother committed suicide and life got more and more complicated, she prayed “If you get me out of this, I’ll help others get out of hard times, too.”
And that’s exactly what she’s done. Jessica DeHart started A Brilliant Life Foundation in 2007 to empower young adults ages 15 to 25 years old in foster care to reach their full potential. The end goal is to shape exceptionally confident, and self-sufficient people.
“I learned early on that you had to go with what you’re good at and the trick is just figuring out what that is,” DeHart says. “There are wonderful state agencies and nonprofits associated with foster care that help the kids survive, we’re interested in teaching them to thrive. It breaks the hand out cycle.”
A Brilliant Life assigns a life coach to work with the kids to create a 10-year plan for their future. These coaches have varied backgrounds ranging from highly motivated and passionate social workers, to child psychologists to former foster care kids who have made it successfully through program. One of the first steps is teaching basic life skills as part of the initial Life Ed Curriculum. This part of the program covers purpose, money management, getting along, staying organized and self-empowerment.
While most of these skills seem very tangible, DeHart explains a little bit about what it’s like to teach “purpose.”
“Purpose is when your gifts meet the world’s needs. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has gifts. We figure out what that gift is and put kids on the initial path to using that gift in their life – then they have a unique and personal purpose.”
A Brilliant Life also helps with identifying a practical life skill and training for that specific vocation or line of work. They then help the participants with career kick off, including job preparedness, resume writing, interview skills, clothing and job placement. The final phase of A Brilliant Life is complete self- sufficiency somewhere around age 25.
The kids enrolled in the program are identified by DeHart working closely with state foster care agency and other like-minded nonprofit groups in town. Having three teenage boys herself, DeHart relies on them to help her with message relevance and appropriateness for her program kids.
“When people ask me how I stay detached from the emotion of it, I say, ‘I don’t’. When I look at the kids, I see all they can be. I don’t get sad, it’s not where my eyes are. I see the potential and there’s nothing sad about that.”
A Brilliant Life is on its first round of kids and are hoping to foster 1,500 kids in five cities around Georgia. The initial support came from Coxe, Curry & Associates where DeHart had to pitch to get them to take her on. She was so passionate in that initial meeting that she cried while presenting. Her greatest hope for the program is that it’s duplicated to help more and more kids make it out of the cycle. Her greatest struggle is funding because there is so much need.
She looks at funding the same way she sees the program helping kids. “Meet basic needs first and then, create a connection. Every human wants to belong. We help them identify with what they have inside because you can’t give what you don’t know you have.”
For more about the foundation, visit abrilliantlife.org.