Taste of Independence (TOI) began in Chautauqua County in 2012 and is an interactive education program. It is a unique opportunity for students to experience some of the challenges they will face when they start life on their own. It’s a hands-on experience in which students identify their career choice and starting salaries then complete a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, health insurance, utilities, transportation, clothing, and food. Additional expenditures such as entertainment and travel are factored in as well.

TOI is planned in coordination with community organizations who participate to bring resources and support to students in their knowledge area.  The program can range from being an activity in a school financial education program to a stand-alone, one-day event.  By design, it can provide a unique opportunity for local businesses, non-profits, colleges, and other volunteers to engage with local teens in a comprehensive learning experience. 

During the program, youth will:

  • Learn how to complete a job application
  • Review interview skills and proper attire
  • Make life choices throughout the day
  • Participate in a mock interview with a community professional
  • Learn how to write a check, balance a check book, and use a debit card
  • Practice managing a budget and meeting financial obligations
  • Navigate unexpected situations that are both positive and negative
  • Connect with community resources and organizations
  • Develop their independent living skills and build their self-confidence

Best for ages 14-18

The summer session is full.  Other dates will be offered in area schools this school year.

Please contact: at (716)338-0170 with any questions or by email at jessica@chautauquasafetyvillage.com.

Program Sponsors:

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