Independent Living Program

JEMfriends Independent Living (IL) Program is uniquely designed to meet youth where they are at and support them on their journey to independence.

JEMfriends is more than a program. JEMyouth gain a community of people who daily invest in their lives. Our hope is that through this community, they will connect to and become friends with individuals who will mentor and support them; not just during the time they are in the JEMfriends Independent Living Program but beyond.

Youth graduate from the IL Program when they have accomplished the JEMfriends 5 Stepping Stones to Independence. These Stepping Stones address the consistent barriers that at-risk and aged out youth face. JEMyouth accomplish these Stepping Stones in approximately 24 months.

The JEMfriends community continues to support our alumni with an open door. Alumni are always welcome to come to the office or call to get practical support and information on updated resources that could benefit them. Quarterly, JEMfriends hosts activities to bring the alumni together for special activities where they can connect and encourage current JEMyouth.

The four pillars of the IL Program are: Housing, Community, Life Skills Classes, and Independence Planning.


Safe housing is foundational for our youth to succeed in other areas of life. Living with other JEMyouth who are experiencing similar struggles gives them a sense of community. Through daily life in JEMfriends housing, they also learn essential life skills such as: cooking, cleaning, time management, and communication.


Mentorship is fundamental for personal growth and building solid relationships. JEMyouth are paired with a one-on-one mentor who cares and invests in their life. Our youth have so much to give and gain by being a part of their community. We encourage them to be active through various activities and volunteering opportunities.

Life Skills Classes

We have weekly life skills classes focused on teaching hard and soft life skills. Classes are taught by knowledgeable professionals and volunteers.

Independent Living Planning

Each youth in our IL Program works with a JEMfriends Youth Advocate Staff Member who guides them as they take their steps towards independence. JEMyouth receive one-on-one employment planning, transportation to work or school, and education planning and tutoring. These are the 5 Stepping Stones to Independence,

Community: Navigating/utilizing healthcare and having a personal mentor.

Education: Graduating high school or obtaining a GED.

Employment: Maintaining employment for 6+ months.

Housing: Being on a lease or agreement.

Transportation: Having a driver’s license and vehicle.

After accomplishing JEMfriends 5 Stepping Stones to Independence, JEMyouth receive the Golden Independence Award, given at the JEMfriends Annual Golden Gala.