Press Release

Press Release: First Place for Youth Raises More Than $600k for Transition Age Foster Youth at A Celebration of Heart and Home


MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Richter |

Held during National Foster Care Month, the event celebrated local leaders who are helping to end youth homelessness in the Bay Area

OAKLAND, CA (May 20, 2024)—First Place for Youth, the nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting foster youth in their transition to adulthood, raised more than $600,000 for transition-age foster youth at A Celebration of Heart and Home, its annual fundraiser gala in San Francisco. Held during National Foster Care Month, the event honored the San Francisco Giants, Visa Foundation, Assemblymember Phil Ting, and First Place for Youth Board Chair Nancy Heinen for their work in helping to end youth homelessness in the Bay Area. Proceeds support First Place for Youth’s essential work in assisting transition-age foster youth in the Bay Area and beyond. Since 1998, First Place for Youth’s programs have served more than 11,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 25 in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and six other states around the country.

A Celebration of Heart and Home embodies the very essence of what First Place for Youth strives to provide: a stable foundation, relentless support, and love for the thousands of foster youth that have little margin for error as they transition from foster care to adulthood,” said Thomas Lee, CEO of First Place for Youth. “This past year alone, our My First Place program ensured over 640 young people had a safe place to call home, while we also provided 1,000 Bay Area foster youth education and employment support. This funding furthers our goal of doubling the number of youth we serve and expanding our reach within California and across the country in the coming years.” 

Many of First Place for Youth’s program participants and alumni attended the event and shared the impact of its programs, including Liliana, who expressed, “Due to First Place for Youth, I’m now raising my son in the kind of community I needed as a child, with support in achieving my life goals. Community support and programs like these have been vital for me to take steps toward a life that everybody deserves. One that’s safe, where I can thrive, where I can genuinely say I love myself and my life.”

Assemblymember Phil Ting received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his exemplary commitment to improving the lives of foster youth. Over the years, he has worked to end homelessness, supporting programs and legislation that are crucial for foster youth, including expanding eligibility to older foster youth who need additional time to reach self-sufficiency.

First Place for Youth honored the SF Giants with the Community Hero Award for their commitment to creating a community that supports individuals from diverse backgrounds, including foster youth. The award recognizes the Giants’ outstanding efforts in the Mission Rock mixed-use development project, which is being built on a surface-level parking lot just steps away from Oracle Park along the San Francisco waterfront. At full completion, the project will deliver at least 1,000 rental units available at a range of incomes, including specific units for low- to moderate-income households. Critically, a future phase of the project will offer 24 housing units dedicated to Transitional Age Youth. The project also consists of ground floor retail, office space, and eight acres of public open space, five of which are dedicated to China Basin Park – the central gathering space for Mission Rock that recently soft opened.

The Visa Foundation was honored with an Advocacy Award for its ongoing commitment and support of local service providers in Bay Area neighborhoods to drive lasting change in the lives of youth. Since 2019, Visa Foundation has committed nearly $20M to support San Francisco and greater Bay Area organizations that are actively working to address chronic and youth homelessness. In addition to transformative funding, Visa Foundation has worked with Visa to encourage its employees to volunteer in their local community. In 2023, employees donated more than 400 hours of their time to support local organizations in the Bay Area addressing this cause.

First Place for Youth Board Chair Nancy Heinen received the Founder’s Award in recognition of her long record of advocacy and support for extended foster care advocacy. Heinen joined the First Place Board in 2017 and has had a deep commitment to social justice and providing more access to opportunities and housing.

Sponsors include Nancy Heinen and Dennis DeBroeck, Parnassus Investments LLC, Jennifer and Abe Friedman, Mark and Nancy Duarte, Carol and Lester Ezrati, Chuck and Rebecca Daggs, Hilda West and Tom Dufurrena, Keith Shultz and Karen May, and NFP. Guests of A Celebration of Heart and Home enjoyed a stadium tour, a visit with Lou Seal, and a silent and live auction. Franco Finn served as host and emcee, and San Francisco Giants alumni participated in the evening’s festivities.


First Place for Youth is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting foster youth in their transition to adulthood. By providing comprehensive programs and services, including housing, education, employment, and support, First Place for Youth empowers foster youth to overcome the unique challenges they face and achieve their full potential. 


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