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The mission of StandUp For Kids is to end the cycle of youth homelessness. Everyday homeless youth face obstacles that most of us cannot comprehend. Where will I have my next meal? When can I shower? Where will I sleep tonight? StandUp For Kids helps homeless youth tackle some of their everyday obstacles and work towards a life off the streets. From basic necessities such as food, clothing, and hygiene to resources for housing, employment, and education, StandUp For Kids counselors use an open, straightforward and caring counseling approach to help kids reach their full potential.
SUFK is a national organization that aims to address these challenges of homelessness among youth across the country. Over the last 20 years, SUFK has provided more than 1,000,000 meals to homeless and street kids in 46 communities through its street outreach program. In 2010, SUFK nationally touched the lives of more than 48,000 kids through its network of 46 chapters.
Retired U.S. Navy Officer Richard L. Koca, founded StandUp For Kids in 1990, after he was shocked by a CBS broadcast of 48 Hours that documented street kids in San Diego, California. He was so disturbed by the news report showing youth living in poverty under highways and in public spaces that when the Navy sent him to San Diego, he immediately started walking the streets. What he discovered is that youth often need a caring adult to listen, trust, and assist them in achieving their goals and getting off the streets. From inception, SUFK was envisioned to be a volunteer-based outreach and community-support program for street-dependent youth. The organizational structure and approach of SUFK addresses youth homelessness that is widespread across urban, suburban, and rural communities. Its causes are rooted in family breakdown and public system failure. Each local chapter implements an array of programs within a larger portfolio provided by the national office in an effort to nimbly meet the needs of its local, street-dependent, homeless youth. These programs include street outreach, runaway deterrence presentation in schools, apartment support, and outreach centers that provide much-needed services. We work closely with local and national partners to avoid duplication of services and to refer youth to organizations that can best meet their needs.
SUFK has conducted outreach for over twenty years around the country. We started outreach in DC in early 2011. SUFK has nearly no overhead expenses and a substantial volunteer base that includes a dedicated team of 11 pro bono directors. In addition, the program has institutionalized its operations, inclusive of a strategic plan, local marketing materials including a regular newsletter, a development team, an active outreach team, a community resource database, and monthly volunteer orientations and outreach counselor trainings.
- Lindsay Robinson
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