What is the Opportunity Passport?
The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative believes every young person leaving foster care should have the relationships, resources and opportunities to ensure well-being and success. The Jim Casey Initiative partners with sites across the country to create local, state and national policies and practices to realize this vision for all youth in foster care.
The Jim Casey Initiative also established the Opportunity Passport in 2001. Implemented for nearly two decades, with over 16,500 participants, it is a core intervention toward building young people’s financial capability.
The program responds to insights from young people who said they lacked opportunities to learn about finances and practice financial decision-making while in foster care. The Opportunity Passport allows young people to learn the knowledge and skills needed to make important financial decisions, to gain experience with saving with financial institutions and to purchase assets that help them achieve long-term goals during their transition from foster care to adulthood.
The Opportunity Passport is designed for young people in or transitioning from foster care who are 14-26 years old and agree to complete a bi-annual survey to share information about their experience and outcomes.
What are the Benefits?
The benefits for young people participating in the Opportunity Passport are three-fold:
The Jim Casey Initiative’s data suggest that the opportunity to purchase an asset with a financial match provides participants with a natural path toward economic success that is both normative and developmentally appropriate. Jim Casey Initiative data has shown that, for young people transitioning from foster care:
- They can save money and buy assets that meet their interests and needs, including helping to alleviate a potential financial crisis
- These assets are associated with positive outcomes
- Those young people who purchase assets fare better because they are more likely to work full time and for at least 6 months, secure safe, stable and affordable housing and cover monthly expenses
- They can save and purchase assets when facing the biggest challenges, such as being without a permanent adult connection, being young parents, and experiencing homelessness
The Opportunity Passport, designed specifically for youth in and transitioning from foster care, includes three main components that work together to provide young people with knowledge about financial issues, and the opportunity to practice what they learn through banking, saving and purchasing assets. These components include:
Financial education – financial literacy classes lay the foundation for the Opportunity Passport, providing young people with knowledge about fundamental issues related to banking, credit and savings. Jim Casey Initiative sites utilize Keys to Your Financial Future, a curriculum designed specifically for this population
Banking – once young people complete the financial literacy course, organizations help them open a youth-friendly account at a financial institution and seed the account with a $100 stipend for attending the classes
Matched savings – adult supporters encourage young people to set goals and consider assets that will help them achieve those goals. Young people save so they can purchase an asset, with a financial match by the organization, that will help them in their transition to adulthood. Savings can be matched for vehicles, educational expenses, housing costs and more.