A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Brighton Center’s Opportunity House at NKU campus helps young adults achieve educational success


Opportunity House is an innovative program that provides a supportive environment for young adults to reach their education and career goals. Through access to post-secondary education opportunities, stable housing, and wraparound services, young adults 18-24 are empowered to achieve educational success, employment, and self-sufficiency.

Opportunity House (Photo provided)

It is located on the NKU campus in Highland Heights.

Opportunity House residents develop an individualized service plan in collaboration with a Case Manager. They identify goals related to education, career, social and life skills, and mental health needs. The Case Manager then connects the residents to a variety of community resources to maintain their stability. When possible, the Case Manager invites service provider partners onsite to reduce transportation barriers for the residents and ensure that they have access to needed services.

Kylie’s story

“From sharing a bedroom to having my own living space, Brighton Center’s Opportunity House has let me truly bring out who I am. This program has opened up so many doors that I could never have dreamed. In just a year, I have learned so many skills for my future education and career. Opportunity House has shown me who I want to be.

“Brighton Center has become my second family. Having lost both my parents and my uncle within a year, Brighton Center became my backbone and support. They comforted and helped me during one of my darkest times. I always look forward to spending time and participating in workshops and events with my Brighton Center community.

“Before I came here, I wanted to go into Pre-Med because those around me pressured me into it for financial reasons. Opportunity House has given me the chance to pursue what I really want, elementary education, rather than letting money dictate what I do with my life. My Case Manager, Financial Coach, and other staff have taught me the skills needed to manage my time, finances, social life, and mental health in order to really go after my dreams.

“Every month, I meet with my Case Manager where, we discuss my grades and classes. She helps me stay on top of everything. Plus, she has many connections at my school, so whenever I need any help, she’s able to provide me with the resources, such as tutoring, advising, and free grocery services, in order to be successful. We also have workshops weekly. This can be anything from a cooking class to yoga to even Narcan training. These classes are extremely fun and informative. My Financial Coach helps keep my finances in good shape. We discuss college, employment, credit, spending, budgeting, and whatever financial obstacles I need to overcome. She helped me lay out my spending and savings along with educating me on what I need financially to accomplish my goals.

“Brighton Center has allowed me to dream. I dream of having my own apartment and traveling across the world. The people here have listened to my dreams and shown me the path to achieve them. They have given me the opportunity to be independent, all while still always supporting my path there.

Kylie — positioned for a brighter future with Opportunity House and Brighton Center services. (Photo provided)

“Opportunity House is just the right mix. It is truly a community. It’s small enough that I know everyone and that we are close, but I also have my own kitchenette, bathroom, and living space. Having had to share a room all my life, this is an unbelievable experience.

“Before I looked into this program, I was interested in dorms and apartments. Dorms do not have the same closeness that Opportunity House provides, and the market for apartments right now is way too high for many college students like myself. Brighton Center has given me an amazing and balanced in-between that gives me everything that I am looking for. I loved Opportunity House so much that I was ready to move in the day I found out I was approved.

“I am so proud of myself and how far I have come. I have had my fair share of challenges, but I have never given up. Brighton Center, and Opportunity House, do not let my troubles define who I am or will be. Instead, they help me create the image of who I want to be and truly am.”

Why do it?

Youth in Northern Kentucky travel along many paths during their transition to adulthood. For some, the road is relatively smooth and direct, others face a more difficult path. Many of these young adults feel post-secondary goals are out of reach. This can be especially true for young adults aging out of state’s care or foster care, or those with similar life experiences. They often need additional and ongoing support to navigate post-secondary education opportunities while stabilizing their life situations. By providing access to affordable housing and support services, Opportunity House eliminates many of the barriers young adults face in reaching their academic, career, and financial dreams.
 
Many of the young adults in this program are first-generation college students. They have hopes and dreams but may be unable to find a way to achieve their goals. These young adults may be on their own and often have little to no adult support or guidance. They need to know that they have a place to live, and their basic needs are met, to dedicate the time and effort required to succeed in post-secondary. This program allows for them to live with peers that have similar life experiences while receiving ongoing support.
 
Criteria for young adults to apply and enroll:
 
• Must be pursuing, accepted, or enrolled (at least part-time) at an approved or accredited post-secondary institution, including a certificate program, or two-year or four-year degree program.
• Must be unmarried without children
• Maintain a 2.0 GPA
• Already have a High School Diploma or GED
• At least 18 years of age, and up to 24 at the time of enrollment
• Obtain and maintain part-time employment (10 hours minimum a week) 
• Regularly attend life skills workshops and meetings with a Case Manager
• Must meet all eligibility requirements for Section 8 housing, including no felony convictions
• Complete full program application and interview process

Support can be provided with the post-secondary application process if requested. Full post-secondary acceptance is required prior to enrollment in Opportunity House.

Impact

Opportunity House has received over 100 referrals and served 23 young adults through stable housing, case management, and supportive programming.

It has offered more than 80 events onsite to residents during the first year, including resident house meetings, council meetings, resource fairs, cooking classes, safety presentations, resume building workshops, career exploration, financial wellness, and self-care and mental health presentations. 94% of Opportunity House residents made measurable progress toward a degree or credential.

Opportunity House has hosted 14 individual volunteers, and 11 volunteer groups that have engaged with and supported the aspiring young adults of Opportunity House. This has resulted in nearly 300 hours of service, through fellowship, instruction, and mentorship within the first year of operation.

The aspiring young adults have built a support system for each other and created an atmosphere that is engaging and motivational.

To learn more about Brighton Center programs and find out how you can provide support, visit brightoncenter.com .

For information about Opportunity House or an application to apply visit brightoncenter.com/opportunityhouse


Related Posts

Leave a Comment