At age 18, Elijah Miller understood that he needed to graduate from high school to move forward with his life but he didn’t have a clear picture of his future. Driven by his entrepreneurial spirit, Eli took a nontraditional route and still found success with support from his First Place team at the Solano County Independent Living Skills Program (ILSP).

Elijah producing music at his home studio.

Elijah enrolled in the program at age 15 after a referral from his social worker and began to set and achieve academic goals and connect to other high school students in his cohort. Through the First Foundation curriculum, his Education Advocate provided individualized tutoring and counseling and helped Eli shape goals for his future. In the program, Eli built close relationships with his program cohort in workshops and on fun trips. Through that work in the classroom and among his peers, he began to discover what drives him in life.

“The team had workshops based on our interests, gave us gift cards, and took us on trips—it felt like a family.” He said. “They advocated for me.”

Eli’s Education Advocate, Tempest, encouraged him to attend school and actively engage in learning. His team challenged Eli to not just “settle” for getting a diploma but to excel and develop the skills needed for life after high school. Eli accepted the challenge and graduated from high school three months early!   

“After my experience in foster homes, it was a different experience at ILSP. The staff really advocated for me,” he said. “It didn’t seem like they were just there to get a paycheck but that they really cared about us and pushed us to grow. They did it for me and other kids, and they’re really good.” 

After graduating from high school in 2019, Eli spent the summer in the ILSP discovering how to use a keyboard by watching YouTube and Instagram videos. He practiced every day, engineering his own unique hip-hop beats and mastering his craft. From the start, the ILSP team supported him with getting the right music equipment to pursue his passion and encouraged him to keep practicing. Once he transitioned to First Place’s housing program, Eli bought his own equipment and started a business, “Top Rank”, where he continues to produce music, music videos, and merchandise. His business is thriving—Eli has already earned $25,000 in commissions for his music!

In addition to his music career, Eli has recently stepped into the role of Peer Educator with the Solano County ILSP. Already, Eli has helped the program increase the number of young people attending workshops, updated and increased the program’s Instagram following, and supported his team by leading workshops! Eli is currently shooting a documentary for the Solano County ILSP that will highlight the program’s participants and staff.  

Solano County ILSP is so happy and honored to have Eli on our team—we can’t wait to see what he’ll accomplish next!  

Follow Solano ILSP on Instagram at: @solano_ilsp 

Take a listen to Eli’s music on YouTube!