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Delancey Street Foundation

Rating: 3.78 stars   36 reviews

Nonprofit Issues (NTEE):

Job Training, Vocational Rehabilitation


600 Embarcadero St San Francisco CA 94107 USA


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.


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:


Geographic areas served:

United States


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.

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Reviews for Delancey Street Foundation

Rating: 1 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

It is cruel and unusual punishment to not allow any kind of contact with family and loved ones. The way they cut people out of their resident's lives reminds me of Scientology.
Very stupid!
For people to heal, they need the support of those who love them. Not everyone has that I am aware, but for those who do- YOU ARE RUINING LIVES BY KEEPING THEM AWAY FROM THEIR PARTNERS.

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

My name is issiah and I was fortunate enough to be a resident of delancey st from 2008-2010. Delancey street saved my life. I went to delancey street to avoid going to prison, basically to beat time as a lesser of evils. Unbeknownst to me, I was not only beating the initial prison sentence but also avoid a lifetime of prison sentences. I was a lifelong criminal starting at age 15, I was accepted by Delancey at age 32 as a convicted felon who spent more time in jail then out. I always wanted a better life, just didn't know any different. Not as a 3 year graduate, although I fulfilled my 2 year agreement, I took all the tools, knowledge, and wisdom that I acquired from Delancey street and used them in my daily life. I showed up there as a beaten down 3rd Generation alcoholic drug addict who had lost everything again, family included. Since my departure from Delancey street in 2010 : regained my license, which was not easy with 4 dui's and 2 hit and run charges, I got married in 2012, got a great career as a glazier, purchased a home and recently bought a brand new 2018 Silverado ! There's no looking back to sulk in my fails, only to reflect upon then vs now. Thank you Dr. Mimi Silbert for allowing me to reside in your glorious mansion at 600 embarcadero ! Muah ! Delancey street is an undeclared Angel of the hopeless. Delancey saved my life. I'm truly blessed to have been a part of it

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Rating: 1 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

Delancey street does not ever, and I mean not EVER scratch the surface of the root causes of addiction. I spent three and a have years there. I was adored and given things I never had before. Until recently I would have harmed anyone that ever spoke out against the president or the moving company or any aspect of this incredible and unstoppable force. I was adored and given the keys to the kingdom. Nothing seemed more important. I was given a woman, a class 1 (now class A) license, responsibilities and stature I had never dreamed possible. My entering Delancey St. In 1986 kept me out of going to prison for a third and final time. You can imagine my dedication to the Queen and her Queendom. When I turned over my bible the day they let me in the guy doing my intake interview said "...even God can't help you now".
Any opportunity to achieve a continuing spiritual awakening was swept away from my live until last August when I came within an inch of killing myself with alcohol.
We're it not for AA and a absolutely wonderful old convict taking me step by step and line by line and even word for word through the AS big book I would be dead. Or worse.
My fear of speaking out against the president or the moving company or any aspect of this incredible and unstoppable force has been removed. My soul has been restored .
It is hard for me to imagine what sort of interesting life the President is living and even more iimportant what in the he'll is she thinking? She is a Doctor. How can she be so blinded to those ten thousand lives she has sent adrift? Where are the tens of millions of dollars that the "residents" earn for the program? Where is the success and how is it quantified?
I can speak on this with some dignity now. The result was my beloved little partner overdosing on pills in 2012, also a beloved graduate, my best friend reduced to a Sat state of addiction and returning to prison not once but twice now, every single solitary one of the people that I know that have left there are either dead or living without a soul.
A psychologist runs this circus and has done so for decades without any consideration whatsoever to the problems she should recognize so very easily.
If I said I pray for her soul to be restored I would be lying. There has to be a soul there to begin with.
Any survivors of the graduate pool please don't give up. There is hope. There is AA and NA...dont be discouraged and please do not give up. I am fighting for my beloved Deirdre and Kert and countless others who have fallen because of the big lie about Delancey street.
And a final note to the Queen..
You should be ashamed of yourself and what you have created.
Steve Wischemann

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Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 2 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

‘Delancey street SF is a last resort program. I didn’t allow my 20 year old son any other option after he had relapsed. He had one prior 30 day program under his belt. DS told him and I that he would be able to attend school. They stated that they had many residents who attended college. There was no ability for him to attend school. He had no criminal record. He stayed for a year with no communication with his family. I understand the no contact depending on the support or lack of from family. That wasn’t our case. My son returned home clean which was the primary goal. However he received no education or new skills and he has some serious PTSD from the experience. I’ll have to live with what I demanded of him.

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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

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.

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Rating: 1 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Unfortunately DSF Thank if you are Mentally Ill and have PTSD and have to take Medicine they will kick you out, even if you have PTSD and they New I was a Veteran. Didn't care. Put me on the plane and they didn't give me any money to eat or nothing. I had two days to pack. That's how fast they wanted me out. I was in the war in the early 90's. When I can out I really needed the help. They accepted me and I was doing go . moving up and helping other. Start not filling good in the head and was having flash back. They said I had to go, after eighteen months. When I left I was close to taking my life. Now loving life and clean. Thanks to the VA and others. I know you will not print this, But Vet need your help to.

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 1 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

Delancy street , is a money making business that has a facade of a academic learning academy
They say they are teaching life skills and having each client learn trades to help them succeed in life , there are no certified instructors to teach anything , there are only a couple of people with credentials there who you have very little if any contact with .The counseling is called GAMES where groups of people go into a room and yell and cuss each other out about that persons behavior for 2 and a half hours 3 to 4 times a week . Where you are encouraged to call each other names, like punk , b$/&* ,and others, you can't use the words c@*& ,f@$, snitch or any racial terms and no threats of violence direct or indirect and as MIMI says if you don't have anything for anyone at least say F you, F you and F you....
MiMI who is praised like a god there is a smart business woman , she gets people from the legal system free of charge to work for free and profits off each one of them, everything is donated to the foundation from the food to the clothes they don't pay for medical treatment is you get injured or sick they have everyone sign up for Medicare , they pass out expired medication and don't have any medical staff on the premises,
There are countless health and safety violations through out especially in the dining area , they are running under the guise of a residence so that they don't have to have the same standards as a business, yet there are mice running around in the dinning room and in the restaurant .
They're Christmas tree lots make over 6 million a year and they pay nothing for the labor .
Plus the space they rent out for catering and the screening room as well as the business that are there (private) the cell tower on the roof.
They sway the voting process as well by giving everyone a list of who to vote for (MIMI'S CHOICES) there are a lot more things that are happening there that are borderline illegal if not illegal.
They have a high success rate because they don't count all the people who actually walk out due to being over worked and mistreated on a average they lose 2 to 3 people a week from all lengths in they're stay from 1 day to people who have been there for 4 years who just have had enough and walk out the gate.
You want to wake up and be at work at 6:25 work for a 1/2 hour eat for 1/2 hour and then work till 10 am take a 5 min break go back to work till 11:30 eat for 1/2 hour and then go work for another 1/2 hour then seminar on delancy st. For 1/2 hour then work till 2:30 take a 5 min break then go back to work till 3:55 take a hour break to change for dinner be back by 4:55 to work for a hour eat then go to Games till 9:55 take a 20 min break and then back to work till 10:55, that's Mon thru Fri Saturday is the same except you work till 6:30 before the 1 hour break
All in all indentured service is what you sign up for and you leave with a minimum wage job which they don't assist you in finding no real vocational training besides what ever they need you for to better serve the needs of the foundation,

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Rating: 1 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

My son was in DSF in San Fran for 2 1/2 months of his 2 year stay before he got kicked out. Yes, kicked out for what they say lying during his interview. My son told them everything about his childhood and his past; everything up until the moment he was sitting in that chair. They walked him out in the middle of the night in San Fransisco, CA, not having any money, no clothing, not a phone or even a jacket. Blake was thriving in this program. He loved it! Absolutely loved it! Delancy Street Foundation, a place for second chances my ass! They don't care about people above policy. They are nothing but a cult. My son is 24 years old and he could have been killed on those streets! Let me tell you had that happened, his blood would've been on their hands!!!!

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

12 people found this review helpful

chunhsia - Let me assure you that your questioning is understood, but unfounded. In 1997, when I graduated from college with a Criminal Justice degree, I contacted Delancy Street after watching an episode of 60 Minutes discuss this organization. I was granted what few people are, entrance to Delancy Street and a tour. I work in probation today and have a masters in Criminal Justice. This organization does what no other does, and that is make the offender accountable for their actions. They took people who kept reoffending and going back to prison repeatedly, and taught them another way. They have "locked" apartments for the first year people, and yes their rules are strict, as another other treatment facility. The offender has to go to school to finish high school or on to college if they want. They have a restaurant, award winning, where the prison begins at the bottom rung and works their way up to manager to teach them every aspect of the job. The same with their moving company, printing business and wedding business. The current facility was designed by an offender who graduated from college with a degree in architecture. Offenders run the entire place, and no one who has not offended can work there. They are in almost every major city with a prison facility to accommodate the families visiting. After the first year, if the offender is working the program, they move to an unlocked apartment in the complex and have no restrictions. I work in TX, and there is nothing like this. The premise of Delancy Street was no government involvement. You see, a government facility cannot mandate that a prisoner attend school or work. So when you find someone leaving a facility after 10, 15, 20 or longer years, they have no idea what a cell phone is, very little familiarity with the internet, the latest trends, or any job skill. They are given, at most, $300 a black garbage sack and told not to come back. There is no counseling offered for the rapes the prisoner has endured in prison, the lack of social skills, the lack of any accountability of getting up and being on time for work or school, and they have never accounted to anyone except the prison boss. Delancy Street is and was the most positive place I have visited in my 20 years in this business. I feel if every prison were run the way they run Delancy Street, we would not have the recidivism rate we do now, and we would not have as angry former prison population living outside of prison today.

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Rating: 5 stars  

23 people found this review helpful

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.

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