First Place for Youth

At a Glance

National Office: 
426 17th Street
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510-272-0979

Sam Cobbs
People Served: 
6,827
Tax ID: 
94-3341034

Focus area(s):

Personal & Leadership Development
Job/Career Development
Housing & Homelessness

Description

First Place is a California-based organization founded to prevent poverty and homelessness among the growing, yet largely overlooked population of youth who have grown up in foster care in California. First Place utilizes a comprehensive service delivery model to effectively promote youth success in the key areas required for a healthy adulthood: permanent housing, employment, education, life skills and leadership development, and community connections.

Impact and Outcomes

In Fiscal Year 2016, First Place housed 476 foster youth and served a total of 1,405 youth through all programs in six California counties (Alameda, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, and Solano).
Data from last fiscal year shows that: While 40 percent of the nation’s former foster youth experienced homelessness by age 19, 75 percent of First Place youth achieved stable housing.
While only 50 percent of the nation’s foster youth complete high school, 96 percent of First Place youth earned their high school diploma or GED, or were actively pursuing their high school diploma or equivalent.
While only 20 percent of foster youth who graduate from high school attend college, 81 percent of First Place eligible youth attend post-secondary education while in program.
While only 29 percent of California’s foster youth are employed after exiting foster care, 81 percent of First Place youth obtained employment while in program.

Mission & Goals

The mission of First Place is to help foster youth build the skills they need to make a successful transition to self-sufficiency and responsible adulthood. These youth are highly vulnerable and at-risk for becoming homeless, unemployed, and living in poverty. The goal of the organization is to ensure that all foster youth have the opportunity to experience a safe, supported transition to adulthood. First Place’s programs establish a sense of permanency for youth, enabling them to develop their self-esteem, education and career goals, and self-sufficiency skills.

Program

First Place’s services were designed to tackle the fundamental issues of housing, employment, and education—three areas that can significantly change the course of a youth’s life. The My First Place supportive housing program provides high-risk foster youth, ages 18 to 24, with access to safe, affordable housing, and an opportunity to develop and practice the skills needed to achieve long-term self-sufficiency. Youth are provided with a shared two-bedroom apartment (a single apartment if they are pregnant or parenting), weekly home-based case management, and an ongoing range of support services, including rental subsidies, economic literacy and parenting support.

With their housing stabilized, youth can focus on advancing their education goals and improving their economic security. Youth are given an initial education/employment assessment and are assigned an Education and Employment Specialist (EES). They meet weekly with their Specialist to continue to further their goals around obtaining living wage employment, finishing their high school diploma or GED certificate, and enrolling in post-secondary education. The ongoing case management approach and low client-to-staff ratios promote strong relationships with youth and has proven that First Place is effective at meeting their unique needs, thereby helping at-risk youth become stably housed and independent.

Impact

As one of the largest housing providers for transition-age foster youth in California, First Place has a long history of delivering results with the youth we serve. First Place sets high standards for youth—encouraging them to obtain stable housing and set and reach academic goals, while also providing them with the tools needed to navigate and move up in the workforce. Without First Place’s programs and services, the chance that foster youth will secure adequate housing for themselves is low. In 2016, the organization provided core services to 476 youth throughout California:

75% of youth took over their lease or exited the program into safe, affordable housing.

96% of youth earned their high school diploma or GED, or were actively pursuing their high school diploma or equivalent.

81% of First Place eligible youth attend post-secondary education while in program.

81% of First Place youth obtained employment while in program.  

First Place has a customized performance management database that allows us to gather and monitor both the small and large steps that young people take during their time in program and make real-time improvements to our programs and services. We can evaluate specific interventions used and determine the necessary dosage so that youth achieve positive outcomes around employment, education, housing, and healthy living. First Place’s data-tracking system provides the organization with up-to-date information, including demographics, duplicated/unduplicated service counts, service outcomes, client feedback, and community impact. Data tracked includes: school attendance, education progress, employment status, income, avoidance of risky behaviors, etc. Data is entered weekly and analyzed monthly, quarterly, and annually. The program and outcome data tracked is supplemented by outcome surveys administered when a participant exits the program, and then again at six months and 12 months post-exit. This information is summarized annually and compared to outcomes among the general population of transition-age foster youth, allowing First Place to accurately track trends among our youth. 

Growth Plan

Since inception in 1998, First Place has grown from a grassroots project into a thriving community-based organization, providing support services to youth in six California counties: Alameda, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Solano, Santa Clara, and Los Angeles. First Place has built a solid and diverse fundraising plan in order to secure support from a mix of government, foundation, corporate, and individual contributors, allowing for the organization to sustain services and embark on its ambitious Strategic Plan for 2016-20.

Our work is driven toward the goal that My First Place is adopted and recognized by the federal government as a best-practice and preferred model for serving transition age foster youth. Other organizations and agencies will then utilize the My First Place model to provide high-quality, outcome-producing programming to youth across the nation. To achieve this end game, First Place remains focused on two key objectives: 1) Expand What Works, and 2) Demonstrate Effectiveness.

Expand What Works

During the development of the 2016-20 Strategic Plan Refresh, First Place explored the alternatives to scale and identified that the fastest and most effective path to government adoption of our model will be through the launch of an affiliate network comprised of independent 501(c)3 organizations.

•             In Fiscal Year 2017, First Place will hire a Director of Strategic Initiative who will vet potential affiliate partners, and in 2018 we will hire a Director of Affiliate Network, who will oversee the Network.

•             By 2020, First Place will partner with 3 affiliates nationally, serving an additional 225 youth annually. We will continue to grow the affiliate model, partnering with 8-10 affiliates in 7 states and Washington, D.C. We will invest in supporting the existing organizations to implement the MFP program model, using the organization’s pre-existing administrative infrastructure, and ultimately serve 500-650 youth annual at scale, via the affiliates.

Through an affiliate model, First Place can get to scale faster, impact more kids along the way, and it will cost the same as operating two wholly-owned expansion sites around the country. Through this approach, we will be able to more rapidly demonstrate the effectiveness of our model at a level of scale, reduce our financial burden, and be better positioned to pursue a national policy agenda.

Demonstrate Effectiveness

First Place is also working to pursue the most rigorous evaluation possible in order to establish the My First Place program model as an evidence-based intervention. Building on a Formative Evaluation completed by Public/Private Ventures in June 2012, First Place designed a three-phased approach to evaluation, with the activities conducted in each phase supporting the subsequent phase. Phase 1, a Feasibility Assessment led by evaluation firm MDRC, began in September 2013 and was completed in early 2015. MDRC conducted an intensive document review of First Place’s programs, as well as an outcomes analysis, in order to help the organization make an informed decision about undertaking a summative evaluation and its potential design.

MDRC had two main findings: 1) The THP-Plus Foster Care environment is still evolving and not stable enough to be conductive to an evaluation at this time; and 2) Due to constraints, First Place would likely need to conduct a RCT only in Los Angeles and it would be nearly impossible to achieve the required sample size (at least 1,000 youth simultaneously). MDRC recommended that First Place continue to build program evidence by monitoring outcomes and strengthening connections with key stakeholders, thereby extending the evaluation timeline. In spring 2016, First Place began to develop a program manual and fidelity metrics in order to assess ongoing program fidelity. We anticipate that all six First Place program sites will achieve consistent implementation of the My First Place program model by December 2016.

•             In January 2017, First Place will complete an Implementation Fidelity Assessment, monitoring and assessing program implementation in accordance with manual and fidelity metrics.

•             In FY2018, First Place will conduct a quasi-experimental evaluation to determine program impact and effectiveness.

Location of Sites

National Office: 
426 17th Street
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510-272-0979
List of locations

To make a contribution to a program site:

  1. Click on the "Make a Contribution Now" button and include the name, city and state of the program you would like to support, in the "notes" text box on the organization's donation form, if available.
  2. If a "notes" or "designation" box is not available, write the city and state on your check in the "notes" section or call the national office to designate your contribution to a local program site.

Locations in the following states:

California

Financials

Most Recent Budget

Year Ended:

2015

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$0
Foundation Grants: 
$3,078,500
Government Funding: 
$11,925,017
Contributions from Individuals: 
$819,337
Special Events: 
$53,422
Program Services Fees: 
$0
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$0
Other Revenue: 
$47,823
Other Revenue (Description): 
Donated rent and services
Total Revenue: 
$15,924,099

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$5,948,330
Occupancy: 
$763,056
Travel & Entertainment: 
$256,098
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$0
Telephone & Communications: 
$0
Payments to Affiliates: 
$0
Other Expenses: 
$9,049,676
Other Expenses (Description): 

$2,920,899 of other expenses are rent payments for youth. $4,327,134 of other expenses are move-in support, consultants, program supplies, etc. $1,787,875 of other expenses are pass-through programs. $13,768 of other expenses are non-operation - other.

Total Expenses: 
$16,017,160

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain/Loss: 
$-93,061

Prior Year Actuals

Year Ended:

2014

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$0
Foundation Grants: 
$4,269,748
Government Funding: 
$10,398,135
Contributions from Individuals: 
$681,482
Program Services Fees: 
$104,148
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$0
Other Revenue: 
$141,133
Other Revenue (Description): 
$89,438 of other revenue is donated rent and services. $51,695 of other revenue is interest and other.
Special Events: 
$153,314
Total Revenue: 
$15,747,960

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$5,531,277
Occupancy: 
$694,623
Travel & Entertainment: 
$257,001
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$61,107
Telephone & Communication: 
$123,197
Payments to Affiliates: 
$0
Other Expenses: 
$8,093,947
Other Expenses (Description): 

$2,319,748 of other expenses are rent payments for youth. $3,500,473 is move-in support, consultants, program supplies, etc. $2,273,726 are for pass-through programs.

Total Expenses: 
$14,761,152

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain / Loss: 
$986,808

Major Funders

50 Fund, $500,000, general operating support

California Wellness Foundation, $250,000, general operating support

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, $600,000, program support

Google.org, $500,000, general operating support

May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust, $200,000, program support

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, $750,000, Expansion and Evaluation Project

The Kresge Foundation, $600,000, general operating support

Tipping Point Community, $750,000, general operating support

The TK Foundation, $300,000, program support

Walter S. Johnson Foundation, $500,000, program support