Kyle – Stepping forward at the Achieving Success Convening
With a passion for virtual and augmented reality, 3-D art and building his own lighting design company for live performances, Kyle Martinez is usually behind the scenes working in the tech space.
But he stepped forward at the Achieving Success convening to share his experience transitioning from foster care and to network with child welfare administrators, including one who has some experience in tech himself.
Kyle spent his late teens in foster care in Washington State and met the state’s Secretary of the Department of Children, Youth and Family Services, Ross Hunter, at the convening. Hunter had a 15-year career at Microsoft before moving to public service. Kyle met with other young people with lived experience and child welfare administrators from around the country at the two-day convening in Las Vegas.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect from the convening, but it’s been a really amazing experience to come here as someone with lived experience, who received services in Washington State and get to hear from so many other young people and get their perspectives,” Kyle said.
Kyle addressed the group on the final day of the convening, and he talked about his experiences with LifeSet, the Youth Villages program model for transition-age youth that acts as a bridge from foster care to adulthood.
He benefited from several foster care and transition services, including Treehouse and Fostering Scholars at Seattle University. But, by 21, Kyle had left college and felt like he needed more support to get on track. He reached out to his independent living worker and got a referral to the LifeSet program at the YMCA of Greater Seattle. The Y Social Impact Center was Youth Villages’ first partner agency using the LifeSet program model.
“I knew I needed a supportive figure to help me figure things out and make certain choices,” Kyle said. “My specialist was someone who could walk with me on a path that I created. Someone who was able to help me in ways I wasn’t expecting, along the way.”
Kyle’s two biggest goals were returning to school and getting a job.
“We really knocked those out of the park,” Kyle said.
He connected with SnapChat Learning Academy and now has a role with the company. He started his own business doing lighting design for live music productions in the Seattle area.
Kyle’s advice for young people transitioning from foster care now: Make as many connections as you can as quickly as you can.
“If you need help, reach out for resources — there are a lot out there,” he said.