No job, no diploma, sky-high debts and depressed. CJ (24) didn’t know what to do anymore. His mother urged him to seek help. That is how he ended up at Learn2Work: a learn-work trajectory for young people from 18 to 27 year. “I saw no way out and thought no one could help me. But now I’m looking forward to the future again.”

From homeless to home

CJ had 30.000 euro debt. “I lived day by day and didn’t care about anything. I dropped out of school while I still had to pay for my education. And I had fines,” he says. Project leader Daniëlle Lanzaat of Learn2Work helped CJ get his life back on track. “He is the example of what I love most about my work,” she says. “From homeless to home. From no income to benefits and now a job.” CJ is also relieved. “I have a purpose in my life. I matter again.”

Help from the Oranje Fonds

Learn2Work helps young people again return to school or work. “But we couldn’t really help young people with huge debts,” says Daniëlle. “While we wanted to.” The Oranje Fonds program Meedoen, Samen uit de Poverty proved to be the solution. This gave them room to strengthen their approach. They came into contact with the Youth Perspective Fund (JPF) in The Hague. “An innovative approach for young people who cannot develop properly due to debt. It appealed to us that it is not their fault, but their future perspective that is central. When CJ came to us, we were just getting started.”

Different self-image

CJ and Daniëlle worked on his plans for the future. With the help of a debt collector. CJ also completed social service at the municipality to pay off his debts. “I wanted to live on my own and grow up. But I admit I wanted to quit a few times. Mentally I was broken”, says CJ honestly. “That was the first thing we started working on.” He participated in all kinds of training. “For a long time I thought I was stupid. The training gave me a different self-image. I am very grateful for that. I became more and more motivated. Sometimes I was even there when I didn’t have to be there.” After seven months he was eligible for a home. A few months later his debts were forgiven.

Learning from expertise

CJ has a lot of contact with the other young people. “Now that I am doing well, I myself encourage others. I like to tell them where I come from and how I was helped, to motivate them.” Soon he will tell his story at schools as a guest speaker. Danielle thinks it’s fantastic. “It would not have been possible without the Oranje Fonds. Our organization has made huge strides. It is not only the money, but above all the expertise. Thanks to the guidance, you step out of the issues of the day and zoom in on your own project. You learn from the coaches and the other participants. I have become a different person myself. I do things differently. I think that is very beautiful.”

A very proud mother

CJ looks forward to the future. “When I used to look for work, I was often rejected because I had no work experience. How could I gain experience if no one gave me a chance? I really felt like I couldn’t do anything. That’s why I eventually start my own handyman company where I can give young people a chance at work. I’m going for it and I know I can do it.” And his mother? “She is really proud of me!”

About the Oranje Fonds

The Oranje Fonds believes that everyone matters. That is why the fund is committed to a society in which everyone can participate and no one is alone. In other words, an engaged society; in which we care for each other, people have equal opportunities and feel connected to others in the neighbourhood. Together with social initiators, these are people who see a problem and do something about it. They are committed to people affected by poverty, exclusion, loneliness and psychological vulnerability. They are there for others, so the Oranje Fonds is there for them. To strengthen and connect them. And based on the conviction that we have to do it together, the fund also works with various partners. In this way, forces are combined and bridges are built between people and organisations. So that everyone can matter to someone else. Discover how you can make a difference at

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