Empowering teens and young adults experiencing foster care through mentoring, life skills, housing navigation, transportation, and financial support.
To impact our community one youth at a time by meeting their tangible needs as we connect with them through meaningful relationships.
“I just wanted to take the time to thank you for your understanding…
…and for paying for me to have my [dental] crown done. This has helped me in a huge way especially for being a full time college student and a mother of two children so once again thank you so much.”
board of directors
Tamalani M. Barnett, Esq., CWLS
Executive Director & Co-Founder
Attorney at Gallagher Law,
PC and Of Counsel at The Zalkin Law Firm, PC
Organizational Health Advocate
Visiting Professor of Organizational Behavior
Pleasant Valley School District Board of Education
Tamalani Barnett and Dawn Groom, RaisingHOPE’s Co-Founders, like to say that RaisingHOPE started out backward. They never meant to start an organization. After all, usually you establish the organization, then you create an event!
In 2013, Tami was working as a children’s attorney in Los Angeles and was trying to figure out a way to get involved in her own backyard with the children of Ventura County. She got connected with Dawn, a relative caregiver for her niece, and the two quickly became partners in the cause. They simply had the idea of putting together an “awareness walk.”
“I expected we’d have a hundred people and have matching T-shirts and do a little bit of awareness and that would be it,” Tami recalled.
The first HOPE4Kids race, featuring only a 5K, was held at California Lutheran University’s Kingsmen Park with 400 runners and 50 vendors, raising $11,500 to benefit children in foster care. It was also the site of the first Foster Gallery sanctioned by Ventura County.
During the first two years, HOPE4Kids had raised its funds through one of its sponsors, and that was beginning to get a bit cumbersome. As planning for the 2015 event began, the organization decided to incorporate into its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit and RaisingHOPE, Inc. was born.
A Board of Directors was created they wanted to find programs that tended to needs of foster children that were not being met elsewhere.
The organization has always provided funding to provide for the benefit of youth experiencing foster care ages 0-21 to pay for things not covered by any other means. Recent funding examples have covered things such as first month’s rent, orthodontia, college textbooks, car repair and utilities.
In 2016 RaisingHOPE’s mentorship program was created and is still serving youth in the form of Coaching and Mentorship. This program was founded on the concept that people need people. Specifically young people need at least one stable caring adult in their lives to increase their chances of success in the world, but also to create a sense of belonging, value and a voice on their behalf.
In 2021 RaisingHOPE began partnering with the County of Ventura to offer life skills courses to youth experiencing foster care ages 16-21. It is federally mandated that every youth preparing to age out from 16 years old and beyond must be referred to life skills classes. RaisingHOPE offers the classes in two forms: Foundations (for 16-17 year olds) and Launch (for 18-21 year olds). They cover topics such as Goal Setting: College & Career Planning; Budgeting, Credit & Banking; Communication; Health & Hygiene; Cooking & Grocery Shopping; Healthy Relationships; Transportation; and Housing. Classes are interactive and taught by community experts in their field. Games, food, giveaways, and field trips make the classes fun and engaging.
In 2021 RaisingHOPE contracted with the County of Ventura to offer housing navigation. Their Housing Navigator works with youth who are aging out of foster care to find their first apartment or housing unit after foster care. To date RaisingHOPE has found housing for hundreds of youth aging out of foster care including their own children.
Another way RaisingHOPE helps families in the child welfare system is through advocacy. High-quality representation can literally make the difference between a child being forgotten, neglected or abused, and a child being loved, respected and cared for.
“We couldn’t do this work without the support of our amazing and dedicated volunteers,” Tami said.
Through resources and relationships, RaisingHOPE continues to empower youth experiencing foster care to independence. They serve youth and young adults in Ventura County and in the Conejo Valley portion of Los Angeles County.