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May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust

Foster Youth

fosteryouthWith its grantmaking in the Foster Youth program area, the Trust aims to provide children and youth who have experienced disruption or instability in their homes with the support, resources, skills, and knowledge they need to become healthy, self-sufficient, resilient, and successful adults.

Families and communities are included in the Trust’s grantmaking to support foster youth, as part of a holistic approach to enrich the quality of life, promote self-sufficiency, and assist individuals in achieving their highest potential.



The focus population for this program area includes children and youth who are currently, or have been, in the foster care system, as well as children and youth who may not have entered the formal foster care system, but who live with relatives or other caregivers because their parents are either absent or unable to care for them. Adults who care for or work with youth who experience disruption or instability in their homes (e.g., caregivers, caseworkers, advocates, etc.) are also a key population to be supported through the Children and Youth program area.

The majority of the Trust’s Foster Youth grantmaking will be devoted to direct services for individuals, families, and communities, but a small number of grants may advance the work of organizations engaged in research and communication initiatives that raise awareness about the issues facing foster youth and encourage the implementation of policies and practices that effectively address these issues.

Goals & Strategy

The Trust’s grantmaking addresses four broad goals, which collectively support the healthy development and success of children and youth who are currently or formerly in foster care or whose parents can no longer care for them:

GOAL 1: Children and youth have access to safe and stable homes where they can develop and thrive.

Strategies include:

  • Increase the number of foster families and improve the support they receive
  • Facilitate the adoption and/or legal guardianship of foster youth
  • Strengthen the skills of birth parents so that they are able to provide a healthy, supportive home environment and are well-positioned to be reunified with their children
  • Increase permanent housing for former foster youth, as well as transitional supportive housing leading to permanent housing

Examples of types of activities to be supported:

  • Outreach efforts to recruit more individuals and families to become foster parents
  • Orientations, training, and resources for individuals and families interested in adoption or guardianship and birth parents seeking to be reunified with their children
  • Connecting former foster youth with safe, permanent, affordable housing and providing assistance with security deposits or other move-in costs
  • Educating youth about their responsibilities as tenants

GOAL 2: The physical and mental health needs of children and youth are met.

Strategies include:

  • Ensuring continuous access to health care
  • Provide access to individualized mental health care services
  • Supporting adults to recognize symptoms of trauma, grief, and loss, and educating them about how to create a safe, nurturing environment

Examples of types of activities to be supported:

  • Educating youth transitioning out of foster care about health insurance benefits to which they are entitled
  • Providing skilled therapists who commit to working with foster youth as long as youth want or need support
  • Training for caregivers, caseworkers, etc. on developmental issues faced by foster youth and how to address them

GOAL 3: Children and youth receive the support they need to succeed academically.

Strategies include:

  • Reduce the number of school transfers for foster youth
  • When school transfers are necessary, ensure schools and districts share data and information so that school transitions can be as seamless as possible
  • Train educators to identify and mitigate the effects of trauma, and support resiliency in their classrooms
  • Provide foster youth with the academic support and enrichment they need to graduate high school, and facilitate their enrollment in post-secondary education and achievement of post-secondary degrees

Examples of types of activities to be supported:

  • Providing educational advocates for youth or educational advocacy training to caregivers, caseworkers, mentors, CASAs, etc.
  • Monitoring academic performance and providing targeted assistance when foster youth are struggling
  • Providing resources and support for foster youth to enroll in post-secondary institutions (e.g., financial aid, year-round housing, academic support, priority registration, peer mentoring, coaching) to help them attain their academic goals

GOAL 4: Children and youth are prepared to be successful in work and life.

Strategies include:

  • Support foster youth in transitioning from high school or college to employment
  • Support foster youth to gain financial management and independent living skills

Examples of types of activities to be supported:

  • Provide employment training, career preparation, and job placement services
  • Help youth identify prospective careers and explore career options
  • Financial literacy training

Competitive Characteristics

Successful applicant organizations:

  • Specifically address one or more of the goals indicated on the Goals & Strategies tab
  • Incorporate recognized youth development principles and best practices
  • Empower youth and develop youths’ capacity for leadership and self-advocacy (e.g., organizations involve youth in decision-making and program planning)
  • Support the development of long-term relationships between youth and adults and among youth peer groups
  • Emphasize youths’ strengths and assets
  • Understand and honor the principles of trauma-informed care

Competitive applicants must also meet the criteria outlined in the Alignment and Eligibility sections of the website.

The Trust does not consider requests from the following:

  • Nonprofit social service providers whose work with adults may result in the prevention of children being placed in foster care, but whose work is not explicitly focused on preventing such placements. For example, an organization that helps adults with substance abuse issues, but not for the explicit purpose of preventing the placement of children in foster care, would not be eligible for funding, but an organization that provides comprehensive services to families, including treatment for substance abuse, with an explicit goal of creating healthy families and parents that have the skills and capacity to care for their children would be eligible.
  • Organizations primarily providing emergency material relief, such as food, clothing, or overnight shelter
  • Organizations lacking a track record of achieving results toward at least one of the Trust’s four goals

Recent Grants

Grantee Profile


Established in 2000, Peace4Kids provides programs and services for over 200 foster and at-risk youth ages 4-24 in South Los Angeles each year. Peace4Kids’ programs aim to ensure that foster youth aging out of care achieve a safe transition to adulthood; affordable, stable housing; quality, accessible physical and mental healthcare; high school graduation; college or vocational school enrollment and/or participation in gainful employment; and competence in life skills that support them to reach their goals. In 2012, the Trust awarded Peace4Kids a two-year $80,000 general operating support grant.
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Grantee Profile

A Home Within

Established in 2001, A Home Within began as a national organization with 50 local chapters in 22 states. A Home Within provides pro bono mental health services to current and former foster youth. Volunteer mental health professionals commit to seeing one child in weekly therapy for as long as the child requires emotional and psychological support. Their goal is to help children and youth heal from trauma and loss, and to build and protect a long-lasting relationship that is independent of the foster care system. In 2012, the Trust awarded A Home Within a one-year grant of $25,000 in general operating support.
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