Since the 2010 launch of our My First Place™ program in Los Angeles, First Place for Youth has provided housing, education and employment support, and comprehensive wrap-around services to hundreds of young people in foster care. As we commemorate our tenth anniversary in Los Angeles in a year of uncertainty and challenge, we’re recommitting ourselves to the work of fighting for just and equitable systems that support foster youth’s success and fulfilling our vision of a world where all young people can rise to reach their full potential.

This year, more than 200 young people in Los Angeles found a safe place to call home and vital support in the path to self-sufficiency at First Place. The foster youth we serve are capable of so much, and it is our great honor to walk with them as they forge their path into the future. Our work would not be possible without the support of so many in the Los Angeles community.

As we enter this season of giving and gratitude, we want to take the opportunity to honor some of the amazing partners in our Southern California work who have helped to make our first ten years in Los Angeles so momentous.

An Evolving Roll in Los Angeles

First, our thanks go out to the city and county of Los Angeles for welcoming us as partners in the work of caring for young people in the transition from foster care to independence.

Our expansion into Los Angeles in 2010 would not have been possible without the support of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). Their early belief and investment in our work facilitated our move to Southern California and allowed us the opportunity to prove that the services we’d developed to reduce homelessness and improve long-term stability among former foster youth in the Bay Area would also succeed in Los Angeles.

When California’s extended foster care program began in 2012—extending eligibility from age 18 to age 21—First Place became a licensed foster care provider with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). We thank them for their continued partnership and we are proud to work alongside the Youth Development Services Division and team of thousands in the mission to support and protect the region’s most vulnerable young people as we work to improve lives and futures.

Our Village of Support

We are also immensely grateful for the ongoing support of our philanthropic partners, including the Angell Foundation, Art + Practice, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the W. M. Keck Foundation, the Impact Circle Foundation, the Reissa Foundation, the Mark Taper Foundation, United Airlines, and the Weingart Foundation. Through their generous investments in our work, we are able to provide young people in foster care with innovative, individualized supports in education, employment, and life-skills development that advance them on their paths to independence and success.

Partner Gratitude Spotlights

Art + Practice

Founded in 2014 by artist Mark Bradford, activist Allan DiCastro, and philanthropist and art collector Eileen Harris Norton, Art + Practice is dedicated to youth development and high-quality arts and cultural programming in South Los Angeles.

Since 2016, Art + Practice and First Place have been collaborating to provide services and opportunities for foster youth within the community. This collaboration allowed First Place to open our second Los Angeles program office, housed within Art + Practice’s Leimert Park campus, and connects young people with employment and unique enrichment opportunities through Art + Practice’s gallery and programs. And through the A+P Scholars program, our young people can apply for for direct scholarships to support specific educational and career pursuits.

The Impact Circle Foundation

Impact Circle Founder and Executive Director Jenisa Washington brings together women leaders committed to creating social change and building equity in underserved communities in Los Angeles.

In recent years, the Impact Circle has been committed to supporting the young people served by our Santa Monica housing service site. A 10-unit apartment building provided by a generous anonymous donor, the Santa Monica site offers extended support to young people ages 21-24, specifically those with children of their own, who need more time and resources to achieve self-sufficiency and stability for themselves and their children. With the additional support of the Impact Circle, First Place is able to ensure that these parenting youth have access to reliable childcare services that allow them to continue to advance their educations and career. In addition, the Impact Circle has supported Santa Monica’s community building activities, like family-friendly holiday festivals, and targeted workshops in household management, budgeting, and parenting strategies.

If we think about the main things we all need, it all begins with a roof over our head. A safe place to sleep, eat, grow, build, and educate ourselves. If our young adults who were formerly in the foster care system do not have that, how can we expect them to contribute their best selves, their talents and gifts, to our society.

Jenisa Washington, Founder & Executive Director, The Impact Circle Foundation

United Airlines

In 2018, First Place was awarded a four-year, $1 million grant as part of United Airlines’ commitment to its hub market communities. The support of United has been instrumental in helping nearly 400 young people broaden their horizons and connect to education and employment opportunities, and their commitment to First Place has gone far beyond a monetary investment. With their Los Angeles hub serving more than 16,000 passengers on an average day, our partnership with them has created rich opportunities for career exploration for our young people. United staffers have joined us for career fairs where they provided resume coaching, conducted mock interview and shared their own career stories, and they have welcomed our young people for a behind the scenes look at the work they do at Los Angeles International Airport and what it takes to succeed.

A Tightly Woven Fabric for Success

In Los Angeles, First Place has the privilege to work with and alongside a broad network of organizations whose work intersects with our mission to support foster youth in building skills for self-sufficency and finding their way to long-term success. To Alliance for Children’s Rights, Echoes of Hope, iFoster, Haute Healing, Precious Dreams, A Sense of Home, the entire network of Guardian Scholars programs, and so many more, we thank you for all you have done and will do and what we know we can continue to accomplish together.

Thank you also to our employment and education partners past and present—including A+ Tutoring, East Los Angeles College Department of Allied Health, Five Keys Schools and Programs, The Giving Keys, RIOS, United Airlines, YearUp—who have supported our young people in Los Angeles in exploring new pathways and opening new doors to the future.

To our all who have served on our regional board—Bill Gould, Paul Harder, Evan Huckabay, Georgia Lorenz, Ellen Nagler, Kamili Samms, Adams Sessions, and Summer Watson—we are endlessly grateful that you chose to commit yourself to our mission, share your wisdom, and help us grow in service.

Our gratitude goes out as well to all our donors who have supported our work over the last ten years. With every dollar, you have helped us move our young people closer to the futures they want for themselves.

Finally, and most importantly, to the hundreds of young people who have found their place with us in Los Angeles: your drive, resilience, and hope for the future has inspired us from day one and you continue to make us proud every day. Thank you for trusting us and allowing us be a part of your story.