JBAY’s Outreach Efforts Link Youth to Newly Available Pandemic Relief

John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) was recognized in a recent article about California’s $600 per household pandemic relief payment, which was approved by Governor Newsom and legislative leaders on February 17th.

The pandemic relief payment will be distributed to all families who receive the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), which provides a tax credit to low-income workers.

JBAY is doing its part by conducting outreach to the 3.8 million 18- to 24-year-old youth who became newly eligible for the CalETIC in the 2019 tax year.  Outreach activities include the development of a publication, public trainings, a social media toolkit and the creation of a tax preparation checklist for transition age youth.

Senior Project Manager Anna Johnson leads the CalEITC work at JBAY, “The CalEITC, Young Child Tax Credit, and Golden State Stimulus will provide hundreds or thousands of dollars in refundable credits and payments to youth that can be used to cover immediate needs related to housing, food, bills, and school. It is critical that young adults are directed to file for free and with support from VITA or Free File.”

This is the second year JBAY has worked to expand access to this essential anti-poverty strategy.  In 2020, JBAY launched the Cash Back for Transition-Age Youth Pledge which reached 2,326 across California. Collectively, these young people claimed approximately $4 million. JBAY’s work helping foster youth access the CalEITC in 2020 was recognized with a “One in a Million Award” from Multiplying Good.

In 2021, JBAY is continuing this important work and expanding it by deepening its focus on the nine counties of the San Francisco Bay Area and adding an innovative pilot project with Santa Clara County.

JBAY’s pilot with Santa Clara County will increase the rates of CalEITC receipt among foster youth. Specifically, JBAY will help the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency implement strategies to ensure all youth in foster care receive assistance preparing to file and scheduling a tax appointment from their county child welfare worker. JBAY will evaluate the impact of the pilot and determine if a similar approach should be taken statewide in 2022 by adding the requirement to state law.

For more information about JBAY’s work helping young people access this important anti-poverty strategy, follow this link.

JBAY Receives ‘One in a Million Award’ for Moving Youth Out of Poverty

Emmerald Evans

John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) has been recognized with a ‘One in A Million Award’ from Multiplying Good. The award was for JBAY’s work helping foster youth maximize their tax refunds this year, which resulted in more than two thousand foster youth receiving a combined four million dollars in refunds.

“Filing for taxes is always a confusing thing for me when the time comes around,” said Emmerald Evans, a foster youth studying at Sacramento State. “It’s important for me to have help filing taxes to make sure I’m receiving the most suitable refund based on my circumstances and to be sure that I am reporting everything that is needed to be reported.”

If it wasn’t for John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY), Emmerald and thousands of other foster youth may have missed out on their refund this year. JBAY provided support and materials to help foster youth like Emmerald complete their tax returns and claim the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) for the first time.

(CalEITC) is the state’s largest anti-poverty program, directing $1 billion to low-income Californians in 2019. Unfortunately, until now, young adults, aged 18 to 24, weren’t eligible, unless they were custodial parents. This exclusion was particularly hard for foster and homeless youth, who don’t have the financial support provided by most families to their young adult children.

That all changed last year, when Governor Newsom made 18- to 24-year-olds fully eligible for CalEITC for the 2020 tax year.

JBAY responded to this opportunity by launching the Cash Back for Transition-Age Youth Pledge to help foster and homeless youth take full advantage of this new tax credit. The program educates youth about the availability of the CalEITC. It also encourages youth service providers to conduct activities to increase rates of tax filing, including watching a training conducted by JBAY, distributing social media materials developed by JBAY, planning a tax-filing event, and several more.

JBAY worked with 30 organizations, reaching 2,326 homeless and foster youth by the tax deadline of July 15. This will result in an estimated $4 million in the pockets of transition-age youth in California.

“It’s been an extremely challenging year, especially with so many student jobs disappearing,” said Emmerald. “The tax credit couldn’t have come at a better time. I was able to use my refund to pay off some debts, which has been a huge relief for me.”