Daybreak Dollars Program Motivates Youth

Youth earn Daybreak Dollars by participating in activities such as the Coffee House gathering pictured here. Youth earn Daybreak Dollars by participating in activities such as the Coffee House gathering pictured here.

James' mother brought him to Dayton for a "vacation" with his father. When 17-year-old James asked when she'd be back to rescue him from his father's condemned house, she said she wasn't coming back. A devastated James was sure he'd never see his mother again. He eventually left his father and turned to Daybreak for help.

While in therapy at Daybreak, James expressed a need to see his mother, and our counselors agreed it would aid the healing process. James had a job but, at minimum wage, couldn't afford a bus ticket. By excelling in the Daybreak Dollars program, James earned enough to make the trip to New York to visit his mother. The healing began.

Daybreak Dollars, launched in November 2008, is part of Daybreak's Housing Program. Created to reward residents of our on-site Beachler Apartments for their accomplishments, it provides them with a tangible incentive to accomplish more, while teaching them responsibility. Ultimately, through Daybreak Dollars our youth learn that hard work yields positive rewards and that the power to change their lives is in their own hands.

When youth enter our Housing Program, they agree to "pay" their rent by earning Daybreak Dollars through participation in responsibility-based activities. By simply going to work every day, participating in one hour of Daybreak programming per week, and keeping their apartment clean they can meet that requirement. They can earn more by taking part in additional life skills classes, counseling, etc. Anything they earn above their rent is "deposited" in their Daybreak bank account and can be used to:

  • Make purchases at our Daybreak Dollars store, which stocks household and school supplies, diapers and other baby supplies, toiletries, etc.
  • Order items from our Daybreak Dollars catalogue, which offers DVDs, small appliances, cell phones, iPods, and other desirable items, or
  • Pay for driver's education, car insurance, a GRE exam, or anything else that contributes to their progress by converting their Daybreak Dollars to real U.S. dollars (at a 50 percent rate up to a cap of $750).

When youth graduate from their on-site apartment into a community apartment, they can cash out their remaining Daybreak Dollars to use as they please.

Daybreak Dollars is an objective way for youth and staff to measure a youth's progress. Tisha saved enough to pay for driver's education and achieved her goal of breaking free of public transportation. Chris never dreamed college could be in his future but saved enough money to enroll at Sinclair. Terri saved enough for a bus trip to Atlanta to attend her college orientation.

And James, back from New York, just graduated to a community apartment. He's proud of having saved enough Daybreak Dollars to be able shop at IKEA for new furnishings.