Breaking Down Barriers One Tax Filing at a TimeSeptember 21, 2023
The Community College Foundation Reaches Foster Youth
“The core of what we do is nurture, realize and grow the communities we work with,” says Veronica Galvez, Senior Director of Youth Programs at The Community College Foundation, one of Golden State Opportunity’s Community Connect Partners for this year. “There are so many things that we’ve learned from Golden State Opportunity and there’s been a great opportunity to keep the program growing through funding,” she said.
And Galvez is right: TCCF does nurture the communities they serve, which includes former and current foster youth, families, and single parents across the LA area. For over 39 years, TCCF has developed programs nationwide to help lift foster youth and families out of poverty.
Through funding secured by GSO, this year they have helped their clients file over 200 tax returns through the free tax preparation program called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). TCCF volunteers can now become IRS-certified to complete and file tax returns.
In just two years, TCCF has tripled the number of filings from 68. Many of these clients can claim the state and federal tax credits, putting more money back in their pockets and helping them pay for food, housing, and other basic needs. Many of their clients specifically qualify for the Foster Youth Tax Credit, as they serve a large population of former and current foster youth and families.
In addition to connecting families and clients to tax credits, the TCCF offers a wide range of services, including informative classes, housing assistance and transition help for foster youth. For instance, their Individualized Transition Skills Program (ITSP) helps current and former foster youth build the skills they need to transition into adulthood with all the tools they need to succeed while their Resource Family Approval program helps train potential foster families.
“We are especially equipped to help breakdown barriers,” Galvez said. “We have close ties with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and can quickly work to get missing documentation, like a Ward of the Court letter in place of a missing social security card. Within 24 hours, I can receive that letter securely. I can check the status of their cases. I can make the process easier for my clients.”
Anjali Goel, Area Manager for ITSP, said that one of the best aspects of working for TCCF is a willingness to try new things to help the communities they serve.
“I’ve been given the support to grow and create programs and really innovate,” she said. “In the end, if it benefits our people, the response is usually ‘yes let’s try it.’ TCCF has cultivated this feeling of compassion and understanding in what we do. Working with clients to get cash refunds when they file their taxes just makes it better.”