My Cause

Everybody Rise

By Julissa James

Maryam Muduroglu on Rising Up: “All we are trying to do is what we would do for our own children.” (Olivia Wise)

When Mayor London Breed announced the Rising Up campaign in October 2018, it was a City-wide rallying cry for her collaborators— the many different entities in San Francisco already fighting youth homelessness — to come together and strategize at the same table. What resulted is a public-private patchwork of individual donors like Maryam Muduroglu, nonprofits like Larkin Street Youth Services and divisions like the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, working in unison to cut the numbers of transitional-age youth (a demographic dubbed “TAY” and composed of 18- to 24-year-olds) who live on the streets in half by 2023. A year into Rising Up, where does the TAY homeless community stand?

The cause. Initially launched with a $6 million investment of public funds from Mayor Breed, who quickly added $4 million to that amount, Rising Up has inspired countless organizations and individuals across the City to follow suit, including Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. The campaign aims to assist 850 young people through two different housing interventions: Rapid Re-Housing, a national model that provides a short-term subsidy to the homeless, and Problem Solving, which is a smaller, one-time subsidy to help those on the brink of homelessness out of a desperate situation. Each program includes vocational and holistic support. “This is a way that we can intervene and make maximum impact,” says Muduroglu.

Inspiration. Abigail Stewart-Kahn, director of strategy and external affairs for the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, is encouraged by the “resilient young people who … want the life that everyone else who won the birth lottery gets to live.” As of 2019, there are 1,145 young people living on San Francisco streets — 95 percent of them are TAY and 46 percent are LGBTQ, according to the San Francisco Point-in-Time Count. Says Muduroglu: “All we are trying to do is what we would do for our own children.”

Impact. At the time of publication, Rising Up has supported 16 young people through Rapid Re-Housing. Meanwhile, there’s an aggressive push to get a total of 48 youth housed by the end of this fall through the campaign’s four current housing providers: Larkin Street, First Place for Youth, Third Street Youth Center and Clinic, and Five Keys Charter. “It’s this system-level change,” says Sherilyn Adams, executive director of Larkin Street.

Budget. The goal is $35 million. So far, $16.6 million has been raised, leaving a $19 million gap.

Supporters. Airbnb, AT&T Foundation, Twilio, Twitter, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Tipping Point Community, Brenda Jewett, Maryam and Oran Muduroglu, JaMel and Tom Perkins.

Getting involved. Kathie Lowry, Larkin Street’s fundraising campaign manager for Rising Up, says it best: “When we call you, take our call.” Or just contact the honorary board member directly at [email protected] or 415-601-2770. For more information: larkinstreetyouth.org/rising-up

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