A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Frequently Asked Questions

Contact Jennifer Olney at jennifer@funderstogether.org with any additional questions.

How many homeless youth are there in the U.S.?

The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that in a given year 550,000 unaccompanied young people (for purposes of this initiative, up to age 24) experience homelessness for more than one week. Approximately 380,000 of these are under the age of 18.

Why is this initiative important to ending youth homelessness?

The most reliable data we have on youth homelessness are based on rough estimates made using imperfect information. Although we can find evaluations of specific programs to assist homeless youth, we lack comprehensive data on the scope of the problem nationally and the most effective research comparing interventions and none examining how different interventions address the issues of the different subpopulations. In addition, current programs fall short of meeting the demand for services. Approximately 50,000 youth are served by targeted homeless youth programs each year. Ultimately, better, more accurate data must be collected on the number of youth that experience homelessness as well as the effective interventions to end homelessness for youth. Currently, only approximately 50,000 youth per year are served by targeted homeless youth programs. Clearly this falls far short of demand and more resources are needed to respond adequately to youth homelessness and communities should include youth in their long-term strategic planning efforts to end homelessness for all populations.

If my work isn’t specific to homelessness, is this initiative relevant to me?

Yes! Homeless youth often encounter many different systems, including the foster care, health care, education, and criminal justice systems. We know that the lack of safe and stable housing makes it difficult for any other youth-focused program to be successful. As a leading proponent of systems change, we readily acknowledge that no singular system can prevent and end homelessness alone. We must think about systemic solutions for our young people.

Why is this important to philanthropy?

Youth homelessness is a complex issue, but one that has a solution. It requires a national effort that combines the knowledge and experience of funders who have worked with homeless populations and in other relevant areas. We believe that Foundations for Youth Success will foster a leadership role for philanthropy that will put us on the path toward ending youth homelessness.

Through Foundations for Youth Success, we intend to identify the specific ways that philanthropy can act as a leader/convener, capacity builder, strategic investor, and advocate to effect a systemic approach to prevention and intervention. The initiative embodies a systems approach, focusing on philanthropy’s role while ensuring communication and partnership with government, advocates, policy researchers, and providers.

What makes this initiative unique?

Foundations for Youth Success is the only national Community of Practice that focuses on philanthropy’s role to end and prevent youth homelessness. It is also the only Community of Practice that seeks to bring together funders from a diverse set of grantmaking portfolios, including education, child welfare, juvenile justice, human trafficking, youth of color, and more.

Why is Funders Together to End Homelessness equipped to launch and run this initiative?

With a network of funders spanning the country, and expertise in systems change, Funders Together is uniquely qualified for the task at hand. We promote a catalytic approach to philanthropy that goes beyond effective grantmaking to active civic engagement in solving homelessness.

Funders Together is a unique forum for more than 160 members to: create partnerships; access tools and resources; improve their strategic grantmaking, convening, and advocacy; advocate for a systems approach and long-term solutions; and educate the broader philanthropic community about effective collaboration.

Funders Together is the only national network for grantmakers working to end homelessness. Our professional and experienced staff works in tandem with our highly engaged and expert board of directors, including senior program- and executive-level staff from foundations deeply entrenched in homelessness solutions.

How is this initiative going to connect with other groups focused on youth homelessness? I don’t want to support an initiative that duplicates the efforts of other grantees.

We recognize that there are other efforts underway to address the issue of youth homelessness. Foundations for Youth Success in no way seeks to duplicate these efforts, and will support these other initiatives by bringing the power of philanthropy to the table. Representatives from other initiatives will also serve as advisors for our group.




We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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