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Delancey Street Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Job Training, Vocational Rehabilitation

Mission: The mission of the Delancey Street Foundation is to reverse the debilitating effects of generational poverty, teach non-violence, rehabilitate criminals and substance abusers and move people into economic self-sufficiency; to build a residential educational community which is self-governed and to teach academic and vocational skills, interpersonal and social skills, personal awareness, values and habits to establish a life of integrity and purpose in the mainstream of society drug-free and crime-free, successfully and legitimately.

Results: In 1971 Delancey Street began with 4 residents, a thousand dollar loan, and a dream to develop a new model to turn around the lives of substance abusers, former felons, and others who have hit bottom by empowering the people with the problems to become their own solution. Thirty-seven years later we remain true to our mission. We have been taking in as residents representatives of our society’s most serious social problems and, by a process of each one helping another, with no professionals, no government funding, and at no charge to the clients, we have been solving these problems: generations of poverty, illiteracy, lack of job skills, hardcore substance abuse, homelessness, repeat felons, gang members, teen pregnancies, perpetrators and victims of every kind of abuse. After an average of 4 years, our residents gain academic education, 3 marketable skills, accountability and responsibility, dignity, decency and integrity. We have successfully graduated over 15,000 people from America’s underclass into society as successful taxpaying, citizens leading decent, legitimate and productive lives. We have pioneered new models of education: • Over 10,000 formerly illiterate people have received high school equivalency degrees • Over 1000 have graduated with a diploma from our state accredited post-secondary vocational three year program taught by our own residents. • Fifty students have received an accredited BA either in Human Relations from our chartered college campus through Golden Gate University or majoring in Delancey’s Urban Studies program through San Francisco State University. • Over students have graduated from our ten-year-old charter public high school for juvenile justice youths, 50% of whom have gone on to college; 5% to vocational schools; 3% to the military and the other 42% into career jobs. This is remarkable considering that 90% entered our school as dropouts and complete school failures. We have pioneered pathways out of violence, bigotry and hatred:  • Delancey has moved over 10,000 violent, racial gang members away from gangs into active non-violence. • Over 5,000 Delancey folks have mentored others teaching non-violence and inter-racial mediation. • Delancey is completely self-governed by a Board and resident councils that are 1/3 African American, 1/3 Hispanic/American Indian and 1/3 Anglo, as is our population. Women comprise about 25% of the population and about 30 to 40%of management.  We have pioneered programs out of homelessness: • Through complete sweat equity, we have built and/or remodeled over 1500 units of very low-income housing built by the residents themselves with union support training over 800 people in the building trades throughout our 35 years. • We have moved over 2000 homeless people into permanent housing. • Our high school students renovated their own school expanding it from 8,000 square feet to 24,000 square feet. We have pioneered an entrepreneurial pathway out of poverty. • We have successfully developed over 20 enterprises run completely by formerly unskilled people using the each-one-teach-one philosophy. • We have pooled our resources so that our enterprises have provided about 60% of the funding and growth of our organization. We have now grown to have facilities in New Mexico, North Carolina, New York, Los Angeles, and headquartered in San Francisco. We have received over 100 commendations and awards from presidents, governors, mayors, legislative bodies, professional, religious, community, housing, and business groups in all the areas in which we reside. We have been commended in the media in over 30 major news and magazine programs such as 60 Minutes, 20/20, John Stossel Specials, World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, PBS Special on Crime and Alternatives, Street Stories with Ed Bradley, Oprah Winfrey Prime Time Special on Self-Esteem, Good Morning America, among many others. We have been commended in the written media in well over 200 articles in our 35 years ranging from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, through Fast Company Magazine through the New York Times, the Washington Post, Parade Magazine, Reader’s Digest, People Magazine, Newsweek, The London Times, Financial Times.  We have been studied viewed and reviewed by a wide variety of researchers. The results are summarized by Dr. Karl Menninger, founder of Menninger Clinic who, after a 10-year follow up study stated, “Delancey Street is the best and most successful rehabilitation program I have studied in the world”.  While we are of course proud of our achievements, particularly because all have been accomplished by our residents themselves at no cost to the taxpayer or the client, we believe that because of our successes we have a larger responsibility to see that the mission of Delancey Street extends beyond reclaiming individual lives.

Target demographics: The population served by Delancey Street are adults who have hit bottom, are poor, homeless, substance abusers, been incarcerated, and are often illiterate and unskilled.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 1,500

Geographic areas served: United States

Programs: The program served an average population of 650 former drug/alcohol abusers, homeless and others. The program provides long term residential housing, on-the-job training, education,and basic life skills on a 24-hour basis for a minimum 2 year period. Senior residents serve as "staff" and no salaries are paid. Many residents receive high school equivalency or above. All who graduated have obtained gainful employment and have returned to various communities as decent, law-abiding individuals.

delancey street california operates a short-term supporting living environment, san francisco strong. It houses 15 men returning from incarceration in jail or prison in cooperation with the san francisco district attorney's office. Participants can stay from two weeks to one year. Services provided include housing, food, job referrals, life skills groups, transportation, and referrals for substance abuse counseling. Graduates of delancey street california's core program staff the facility.

Community Stories

15 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

It's funny how there are so many opinions of Delancey Street, especially of those who have never experienced it. For those that have no real idea what it is, you have no idea what it is. No they don't accept everyone. No they don't cure everyone. No they don't address Drug and Alcohol use. No they don't hold your hand upon graduation and take you out to get you a job. And yes, you work your ass off there for many, many different reasons.
So they don't do all these things. But what they do is save lives! Who cares how they do it? Who cares if you sit in a room and scream profanities at one another for 2 1/2 hours 3-4 times a week? If it saves your life, Who really cares?
People fear what they don't understand. Instead of grasping the possibilities, they condemn the unknown. Delancey Street is what one makes of it. If you are happy living your life to go in and out of prison, use drugs, burn what bridges you may still have left, and for the most part break the hearts of your loved ones, Delancey Street is not for you! It's ok. They will survive without you! Go on and live your life the way you have been!
However, if you have finally gotten to the point where you are simply just too tired to keep on with the way you have been, but unsure of how to move forward, Delancey Street could possibly be the best decision one has made in a very long time. However, no guarantees you will be accepted! It does not mean you should give up.
It is true, some people would rather spend another 10 year prison sentence than have to work in a program doing menial chores for 18 hours a day. Go for it! The beauty in Delancey Street is that you are not forced to be there! If you don't like it, LEAVE! Delancey Street asks you to have Blind Faith. Some of the things they ask you to do are going to seem foreign and against everything you think is right. However, your thinking is what got you there and so maybe you need to just let go and trust. They will not ask you to do anything that will hurt you, put you in harms way, or adversely affect you in anyway. It is not a cult. Remember, for every one of you, there are ten others waiting to take your spot.
What makes me such an authority?
So here is a bit of my story. Grew up in a drug dealing family. Sold drugs for my father from the age of 12. Most fathers rave about how their son did in his baseball game, or how big a fish he caught, or how he got an A in Algebra. My dad bragged about how much money he and I made selling cocaine and marijuana. That was until he found out I had been shooting heroin. Then he told me that he ought to do me a favor and put a bullet in my head.
As I sat in jail awaiting sentencing for 6 felonies that they wanted to give me several years for, an ad in the SF newspaper caught my eye.
Delancey Street Foundation multi million dollar location on the Embarcadero to open soon.
I read this article about how a drug program that offered addicts help while allowing them to live on the Embarcadero in San Francisco for free was to open soon. The article went on to say how the new facility had a full gym, movie theater, swimming pool, restaurant, several retail sales locations, etc... They asked for a 2 year commitment and that you do what ever it was that they asked you to do.
I jumped at it and the judge chuckled and gave it to me.
Upon my arrival, I was met by nothing remotely close to what I was expecting. One of the hardest things a drug addict, or a human being can accept is having a mirror shoved in front of your face and forced to look at yourself and realize that your way of thinking is completely out of whack. You see, Delancey Street has been saving lives for 45 years now. The reason for their success is too complex to reveal here, but is so easy if you think about it!
The movie Trading Places- Where Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy trade places? Depending upon which environment one is subjected to and forced to live over and over becomes their reality. Eddie Murphy was a bum living in the streets struggling and hustling just for chump change. He was put into a glamorous and refined situation and lo and behold, he became a socially acceptable and refined individual that held an executive position within a Fortune 500 company. In essence Delancey Street puts you in a situation where each person is responsible for the next, it teaches you to care. You are put in nice clothes, it teaches you self respect. In the beginning you have come from the streets or prison or jail and have acclimated yourself to that environment. Upon entrance to Delancey Street, you work 18 hours a day. It is meant to keep your mind off of the streets, family issues, drugs, alcohol, etc. It is not a way to get free labor! Really? You have 50 people weeping the floors, shining silverware, and washing windows. Hardly free labor to raise the bottom line.
Delancey Street is like most anything else in that you get what you put into it! You have an opportunity like no else to learn how to live your life in a socially acceptable and giving manner.
I was there for 7 1/2 years. It saved my life. If not for what I was able to give and get from them, I would be dead. I have no doubt given the road I was on! It was the hardest yet most satisfying time of my life. I have memories that I will hold onto for the rest of my life.

23 Beau3

Client Served

Rating: 5


Delancey Street saves lives, costs the taxpayer exactly $0, costs the resident exactly $0, and teaches valuable job skills in addition to selflessness, community, integrity. OF COURSE IT ISN'T EASY! Of course it sucks to not speak to family for a while (the other reports here are overblown. It is about 30 days before you can write, a few months before calls and about a year until visiting). And let me be clear: If a perspective resident is on the fence, thinking "it WOULD be nice to get free rehab, but I don't know about the two year stay, or not seeing my family for a while" then Delancey Street is NOT FOR THEM. It is designed for people with absolutely no other option. Unless you have medical needs (Delancey has no staff, no doctors, no psychologist, no nurses) then the only requirement for entry is a sincere desire to change. For my money, this is hands down the most work my donation money can possibly do. My time as a resident began as the most difficult period of my life, and ended as the most rewarding, amazing, fulfilling, enlightening and downright fun two years. I entered as a homeless heroine addict and exited as a successful admin, which led to my current executive position. There is literally no other path that could have led me to this point.
A NOTE**I feel that virtually every negative review here is a complaint against the policy that Delancey Street forces residents to temporary sever ties from loved ones. I can't help but think that 90% of these posters were toxic to their drug addicted loved ones anyway, but don't know how/why. You can be the most loving, supportive parent, and still be engaging in enabling or controlling behavior that perpetuates the addicts selfish behavior.

7

Client Served

Rating: 2

No question : For those facing lengthy prison terms Delancey Street Foundation 's 2 year minimum residential isolating committment is almost...almost a "no brainer" .... there does exist a 16- month "black-out" period w/ no..absolutely NO FAMILY CONTACT.... With that said, it is a decision that needs to be seriously weighed... cuz it is no kicked-back easy residential rehab that one might have pictured... Delancey Street Foundation is not without it's critics and the" self- supported non- government funded" saw one continually reads is baloney considering DSF collects it's residents General Relief Food Stamps eligibility( they qualify for as being "indigent" while a resident at the so-called not- government funded facility) . That's alot of Cheerios at the end of a 2-year stay. There is much help people find at DSF; lifechangeing help; and the pendulum swing the OPPOSITE DIRECTION where some people are quite damaged and it was a not-so -good fit" for their rehabilitation needs. But isn't that life ? Some even whisper the word "cult' in connection to DSF, due to certain methods and approaches DSF utilizes. Overall take the decision to go to DSF as the perhaps the most serious-type of decision; do NOT go if u can't handle not talking to your children for 16 SOLID MONTHS- this is a non-negotiable DSF policy .... and don't go if you think u gonna maybe bounce out because if one is court ordered to DSF... it is nearly unheard-of to not experience the "other place" if u are a splittee outta DSF... Independant thinker? Stay -far- far- far- away from the "hard bench '... find another place ... take Delancey Street Foundation of ur list if you can't handle being on your feet 18 hours a day.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

I should have been dead already. I had been arrested on five different occasions for drunken driving. I was drinking a liter of bourbon a day and I knew I was doing it to kill myself slowly. I spent three years in Delancey Street, and during the course of my stay I was helped in rebuilding myself, brick by brick. I was able to look at my reflection in the bathroom mirror only after being there a few months. But I did it. I was imbued with a sense of confidence and self dignity that I had never posessed even in the years prior to my drinking getting out of control. All this happened because a group of people who hardly knew me took the time to keep me on track, and also gave me the motivation to improve myself in all ways. I just found out last week that I passed my certification test for structural welding. And I was reminded of just how far I have come in a relatively short timespan, and how many people had a hand in me getting to where I am. I'm not rich, but I am blessed. Thank you Mimi, Charlotte, Stephanie, Abe, and everyone else who didn't give up on me. I will continue to live my life in a way that will honor your continued commitment to helping people renew themselves.

12

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is John Jacobs and,if I was'nt a husband, father and grandfather I would never have left Delancy Street. Because of Delancy Street I am all of the above but better than that, Delancy Street taught me to give a damm...not only about my life but "your's Too"! Since I left Delancy Street I have received my degree from USF and worked at the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic. I have been clean since 1990 and, today I work at the same parole office that, I used to report too. Delancy Street gave me a new life and,a new attitude! For me, Delancy is not just a place but, a way of life that needs to be practiced in every town, village and ghetto in the country or.....the world for that matter. Delancy Street through tough love, taught me to love myself by being honest to myself and others. I also was blessed by the family environment that is Delancy Street. I would like to take time to thank all of the Delancy Street family (the abe's, the terrie's, the charlottes, the dick's and, the ray's, my peers)that helped me change my dippers and fed me until, I was able to feed and change myself! But, more than that, " thank you MIMI for Dugal's input and for, having faith in me. Delancy Street Foundation is not a program..."IT's A WAY OF LIFE'!

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

After spending most of my young and adult life in and out of jails and institutions. Delancey Street took me in, showed me love and provided hope. I stayed there for 10 years, learning, growing and doing what I could to make the world a better place. Delancey Street believes in second chances. I got that second chance and I am grateful to everyone there. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went to Delancey Street in 1994. I was sentenced there instead of 7 yrs. 8 mos. in prison. I stayed for 4 1/2 years. Delancey Street was the best thing that ever happened to me. 3 of my family members have gone there since and we all been given second chances at living a clean life. Since graduating, I have received a Real Estate license and also work for the County of San Mateo for the Director of Alcohol and Other Drug Services. Delancey Street taught me how to live life and give back to the community. I do not think I would be the person I am today if it weren't for Delancey Street. I would do it all again. If I didn't have children I would have to stay toi give back to them for all they gave me.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

How can I ever write the appropriate words to express my gratitude towards Delancey Street and all that it stands for? If the world could follow the likes of Delancey Street all the problems could be solved.I came to Delancey Street in 1994 with all of my bridges burned. My family and friends finished with me. All they believed in now was that I was either going to die or spend the rest of my life in prison. Delancey Street saw something different. The residents that were there at the time had been down my road once before and knew that if they believed in me one last time I could be someone..someone they,my family and myself could be proud of. Fifteen years later I have become a mommy, wife, college graduate and the best of all a decent human being who cares about others, myself and the world I live in. Thank you, Delancey Street..thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have given me. You are a part of me, forever.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

hi my name is Robert e Smith i went into delancey street in 1998 i stayed 7 years.I want every one to no they saved my life, i had no where to go no hope of making it, anywhere. with no real job skills. I spent over 14 years an in out of prison.I would all ways go back to the some spot.because i new nothing else, i was on my way back to prison for the 5th time. i went in front of judge bane he is a big believer in helping people. he told me he was feed up with my coming back to his court. he told to get a hold of delancey street for a interview. he said i would probably spend the rest of my life in prison if i did not change. Delancey street came to my rescue told the judge they would take me. after getting there delancey street started working on me they where showing me and telling things about myself i could not see. after seeing these things i new i needed to change them. so i stayed 7 years now i help run moovers inc a company that would not be here without Delancey street we employ around 15 people that are from delancey street included the owener. delancey street is still a big part of my life, they,re still there for me and they allwas will be whenever i need some one to talk to or lean on i call delancey street

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Before Delancey Street, I was a broke down drug addict and a burden to society. My family life was a mess. I had nowhere to go and nothing to offer anyone or anything. I had visited Delancey Street and knew in my heart, this was the only place that could give me the help and guidance I so desperately needed. It is strict, structured, and you are not addressed as “poor you, you are a drug addict”. I had been through NA/AA, and working the “steps” were no help. I could get away with way too much by telling them what they wanted to hear and then go out and get loaded immediately after the meetings. I needed to restructure my life with habits like working and social skills. That is what you acquire at Delancey Street. You are also taught to be a decent person, making the right decisions based on a set of basic values that when applied to your life’s situations, will carry you through. I graduated 2+ years ago and am now a productive taxpaying citizen. I have a very rewarding life and my family has been restored. I have formed relationships with people that are more than friendships, they’re family. I owe all I am today to Delancey Street for giving me the opportunity, support, and courage to change my life. Thank you D street family!

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went to Delancey Street as my very last attempt at changing my life. At 35 years of age I had been in prison 5 times, in and out of County Jail a dozen and in 4 treatment programs. I had been going to 12 step programs since I was 19 years of age. I really didn't know if I could change my life. I went knowing I was going to need to stay longer than the mininum 2 years..after all I did not get the way I was in 2 short years. I ended up staying 7 years and in so many ways it was the best 7 years of my life. Because of the skills and the self confidence I was taught while a resident I was able to graduate and obtain a very well paying job in the field of corporate finance. Even with multiple layoffs in this fragile economy I have been retained due to excellent job performance. I owe anything good in my life..especially life itself ..to Delancey street.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was a resident in Delancey Street for 12 years and the acceptance, love, and support was at times overwhelming. I was addicted to crack and had destroyed everything in my life, and had lost all hope of being able to live a clean and decent life. The interview was personal and revealing and showed who out of my own mouth became..it was the 1st time I had to be honest about myself. The people who interviewed me were not social workers or somebody I could con with the poor me story...they too had been down the same road and could call the bull.I was treated like I was part of a family..and my only admission was to take direction, help others, and don't be afraid to believe in yourself. I knew anything was possible when I learned that the beautiful facility was built by former ex-cons and society's throw aways. I worked hard and gave back to a community that excepted who I was and all the not so nice things I had done to myself and others and was doing it without crack...I started to even like myself again and eventually saw this person I use to know the days of BC (before crack) come back. Thank god there is a place like Delancey Street that will help you get your life back, not glamorize your using, not charge you a dime, teach you job skills, and teach you to become a decent, caring, job having, an asset to your community, tax paying, and all around successful human being. And like anything it doesn't fit everyone but after years of seeing "experts" in the field, AA and NA meetings talking about using and eventually after talking about it so much...after the meeting I would go get loaded....from talking about it so much...hummm just a thought. Thanks to Delancey Street for giving this crack head a reason to live.

3 Van Noustrum

Client Served

Rating: 1

As a graduate of Delancey St. in 1988 I truly question how well this so-called program works. See, I was back smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol just one single week after graduating from there. I was a supposedly a somewhat successful resident for 4 long years too! I did everything they told me and did it well. I was not the only one either that immediately went back to drugs and alcohol. Of the 8 or so other residents that graduated around the same time as I did back in 1986, 6 were at least smoking pot and drinking shortly after graduation. One is back in prison for 20 years. Most of the comments on this page suggest high praise for the organization as a whole, but I ask what the long term results are? Have any studies been done on the thousands of graduates at all? Are any records kept on the graduates at all? If not, then why? How are they doing after 1, 3, 5, 10 years later. Does anyone really know? I bet not! All we hear about are the few success stories. The one doctor, the one politician (the founder’s brother), the fireman. Okay now, that’s 3 successful graduates out of 10,000 plus graduates. This is not a success story at all! I contend that all Delancey Street Foundation does is keep criminals out of jail temporarily. Although, I have never been sentence to prison, I have been arrested for DWI/DUI twice since graduating and am constantly struggling with sobriety. Delancey St. never addressed my alcoholism and drug abuse ever, although I was sentence to Delancey St. with over 20 drug charges! As a resident we were forbidden to talk about drugs or alcohol even in the group therapy sessions. All the commenter’s to this thread, all they’ve seen is the nice buildings, the residents working hard at their jobs for almost free, a clean and nicely structured environment, and past felons off the streets learning new trades like basket weaving and furniture moving.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is my 4th year here at Delancey Street. You only have to stay for two, but you're allowed to stay for longer--I'm actually even applying to stay for two more. I was on my way back to prison for three strikes and a gang coordinator asked, if he could get me some help, would I take it. And I didn't expect it, I didn't have it coming--I spent most of my adult like in jail. I spend one year in a prison program called Choices, and that got me into Delancey Street. Before I got here I just existed, I wasn't really living. Delancey Street opened my eyes to a new way of life. Delancey Street is incredible because they leave all of the segregation out. In prison they split you up--Hispanic, black, white, and in Delancey Street you're just here. They give you the chance to just be yourself. Now, instead of destroying lives, I help make them better. *This review was collected by GreatNonprofits staff and entered on behalf of the reviewer

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I’ve lived most of my life in and out of prison form the age of 17 to now. I came to Delancey Street I was just sick and tired of always being in and out of prison, not having any loved ones, the gang life. I never had a job, because I was always in and out of prison. My experience coming here was that I knew that it was going to be tough, because I was going to have to figure out how to relive my life because I’d always been in the system. I learned how not to hate, not to judge someone based on the color of their skin, their gang membership, or what I could take from them. It was hard and it was a struggle, but it was the best thing I’ve done in my entire life. I’m one of the heads of the construction crews here, and I teach the guys how to paint and do projects. I’m also one of the interviewers who comes here and talks the people who want to be in the program. *This review was collected by GreatNonprofits staff and entered on behalf of the reviewer