A group of Westside philanthropists has pledged more than $170,000 to three local nonprofits that help young adults who have aged out of foster care, teach science to girls in underserved communities and offer design work to people recovering from addiction.

The Sustainability, Accountability, Movement (SAM) Initiative was founded in 2013 by Mindy Freedman and brings together women to pool their financial resources to fund programs in Los Angeles that promote social change and benefit women, children and families. This year, the organization is funding A Sense of Home, New Village Girls Academy and Creative Matters, as well as a conference at the UCLA Anderson School of Management that invites businesses to explore solutions to social challenges.

The SAM Initiative supports local programs that empower vulnerable groups, Freedman said.

“I’m a native Angeleno and there are organizations brought to me through the SAM Initiative that I never even knew existed,” said Lisa Kirshner, a board member and Santa Monica resident. “It’s an eye-opening experience.”

A Sense of Home focuses on youth who age out of the foster system, a population that often gets left behind. The nonprofit furnishes their first homes through new and donated furniture and the help of volunteers.

“When recipients walk in and see a kitchen put together or age-appropriate things for their children, their apartment goes from four bare walls to a home,” Kirshner said.

The $52,000 grant from the SAM Initiative will go toward a truck and shelving for A Sense of Home’s warehouse that will allow them to accept more furniture and furnish more homes.

The New Village Girls Academy, a tuition-free, all-girls charter school, also works with youth who have been marginalized, Kirshner said.

“They’re an at-risk population of young women that did not work in other schools for a multitude of reasons,” she said.

The $90,000 grant will fund the school’s science program done in partnership with the California Science Center.

“The validation and belief in what we are doing demonstrated by this generous grant is incredible,” said principal Jennifer Quinones. “It says you know that we at New Village can truly make a difference for the trajectory of our students’ lives.”

Creative Matters will receive a grant of $30,000 to support their work therapy program staffed by recovering addicts, which will be doubled by a matching Grant.

The agency employs people recovering from addiction and produces advertising campaigns primarily for nonprofits. It provides work training and therapy, helping those struggling with addiction return to the workforce.

“SAM’s grant provides Creative Matters with the resources necessary to scale its program and help even more recovering addicts,” the agency said in a statement. “Our work has a ripple effect on the non-profit ecosystem as a whole.”

As someone with a family member who is a recovered alcoholic, Kirshner said she has seen firsthand that offering someone the chance to do meaningful work helps prevent relapses.

“They’re very productive people that are going through issues and giving them a path to encourage them and show their talent is so valuable,” she said.

The SAM Initiative’s next giving cycle begins in October. Nonprofits must be at least three years old, benefit women, children and families, non-denominational and based in the Los Angeles area.


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