History of the Foundation

Founding members of the Foundation circa 1971.
Founding members of the Foundation circa 1971.

The Foundation was founded in 1971 by Ernest Mitchell, Jr., a long-time Bayview Hunters Point resident, in response to the problem of neighborhood crime. Our first program, Community Defenders, helped address the less-than-adequate legal representation of poor, African American men in San Francisco.

When many early clients became involved with drugs and had trouble with the law, The Foundation quickly recognized that the community needed help addressing substance abuse and addiction. So throughout the 1970s, it launched services including methadone maintenance for drug users, and other outpatient services for addiction.

In the 1980s and 1990s, recognizing that substance abuse and mental health issues often go hand-in-hand, The Foundation began to develop a continuum of mental health services for people of all ages. Our staff also realized that due to an historical distrust of “the system,” many residents could not effectively meet the conditions of probation and parole. In response, The Foundation began to partner more closely with the probation and parole departments to serve as a “bridge” between the community and these systems.

Over time, The Foundation expanded its response to the needs of Bayview Hunters Point residents by providing services to address HIV/AIDS; the needs of the African American LGBTQ community; and the need for quality education, vocational support and health care for residents of southeast San Francisco.

Today, The Foundation’s continuum of services includes adult and child mental health, methadone treatment for heroin addiction, substance abuse treatment and prevention services for youth, and services for juvenile offenders. We partner with schools, health care centers, vocational programs, and many others to ensure that every client receives the services they need to achieve optimal well-being.

Our Commitment to the Community:

Since its founding by dedicated citizens 45 years ago, The Foundation has been driven by an interpretation of social justice that demands active engagement in the day-to-day life of people who live in the community, and a pledge to a continuing improvement in their quality of life.

The Foundation is committed to finding and implementing ways to stabilize the community with significant participation by African Americans and other people of color. We are particularly committed to equipping young people to become full participants in the educational, economic, cultural, political and social systems of San Francisco. Today, pivotal changes in our city and community require this responsiveness more than ever.

Recent years have seen significant opportunities for heightened response. For example, the Affordable Care Act has opened up treatment to many more people, but also requires that The Foundation partner with other providers through the San Francisco Health Network. This collaboration ensures that every client receives the type and level of care needed.

Like most nonprofit organizations, we must maintain continuous funding for services. While the majority of The Foundation’s funding comes from local and state government, the infusion of funding from technology and other corporations in San Francisco presents an opportunity.

The Foundation balances its response to opportunities with an unshakable commitment to addressing the needs and wants of southeastern San Francisco residents.

We continue to be at the forefront of social service response, working to fill identified gaps in the public health system, and serving as an anchor for a community in the midst of change.