$5 million grant to help at-risk Kentucky teenagers transition into adulthood

Federal grant to help TAYLRD program expand statewide

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Mental health issues can make the transition to adulthood difficult and sometimes leads to homelessness and unemployment.

A local program has seen a lot of success in helping with the transition and has secured a $5 million federal grant to expand throughout the state.

TAYLRD (Transition Age Youth Launching Realized Dreams) provides access to computers, books and games to people ages 16 to 25 who are homeless. The group also connects them with mental health specialists and counselors to get their goals on track.

Kee’Oyndra Shelton, 23, was homeless with severe social anxiety when she agreed to get help at TAYLRD three years ago.

Kee’Oyndra Shelton said the TAYLRD program helped her develop art skills and find a place to live.
Kee’Oyndra Shelton said the TAYLRD program helped her develop art skills and find a place to live. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

“I knew I could draw,” Shelton said. “It’s just I lacked support and motivation to further my talents.”

Now she feels proud of her artwork and has a plan to make it part of her future career. Shelton found a job and a safe place to live through the program, too.

“Throughout this entire experience I had an apartment to call mine,” Shelton said. “Now, I’m about to get a house. That’s a huge step.”

30 percent of people who visit the Louisville TAYLRD location aren’t homeless after six months in the program. There has also been a 30 percent increase in employment and 31 percent decrease in exposure to violence.

TAYLRD provides access to computers, books and games to people ages 16 to 25 who are homeless.
TAYLRD provides access to computers, books and games to people ages 16 to 25 who are homeless. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

“I really know what it’s like for these kids,” Centerstone CEO Abby Drane said. “I didn’t even graduate college ‘til I was 27 because of those delays in a childhood that you have in a childhood disrupted by addiction.”

Like Drane, Shelton is inspired to help others grow into adulthood the way she has.

“I want to be a peer supporter because I want to help everybody and I don’t want to stop there. I want to keep on,” said Shelton.

Centerstone CEO Abby Drane.
Centerstone CEO Abby Drane. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

In addition, peer support specialists are around the same age as the people they’re helping.

“I think it’s important for people to know that it’s non-judgmental and this is not your traditional mental health or homeless facility,” peer support specialist William McPheeters explained.

The Louisville location costs around $500,000 a year to run. Its location on East Broadway is open Monday - Friday from 3 to 6 p.m.

In five years nearly 2,000 people have gone through the program throughout the state, where there are 20 drop-in locations.

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