Families Forward

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Families Forward
Families Forward Logo.jpg
Formation 1984
Headquarters Irvine, California, U.S.
200 volunteers, plus counselors and part time employees
Executive Director
Margie Wakeham
Website Families-Forward.org

Families Forward is an Irvine, California based nonprofit organization founded in 1984 by a group of community members in collaboration with the City of Irvine and the Irvine Company, with the goal of providing affordable housing for homeless and at-risk families.[1] The agency began with only five apartment units and one part-time counselor. Families Forward has grown and now has twenty-eight transitional housing units, a food pantry providing food for over 5,000 people per year, and offers services to prevent homelessness in Orange County, California.[1]

Families Forward's mission is to help families in need achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through housing, counseling, education and other support services.[2] The group focuses on food insecurity, whereby a population of people don't qualify for federal food assistance programs, but still experience hunger because of heightened expenses.[3]

The organization has over 200 volunteers, in addition to full-time counselors and part time employees.[4]

Families Forward was awarded four stars by nonprofit evaluator Charity Navigator for fiscal responsibility, noting that 86.8% of donations are spent on its programs and services.[5]

Programs and services[edit]

Families Forward offers programs and services targeting families who are at-risk of becoming homeless.[6]

Housing support[edit]

The organization offers a Transitional Housing Program utilizing 28 homes located throughout the community to provide homeless families with housing. Clients work with masters-level case managers on individualized self-sufficiency plans.

The organization also partners with local apartment communities in its Housing First program, placing families in affordable apartments where the rent is paid in gradually increasing increments. Other supportive services available to families in this program include counseling, food, and career coaching.

Job launch workshops[edit]

"Job launch" workshops offering career coaching are offered at Families Forward to help individuals increase their financial stability through job acquisition or improving their earning potential. Career coaches assist clients in gaining knowledge of practical and effective job skills.

Food pantry[edit]

Families are provided with food and basic toiletries.

Life-skills counseling[edit]

At-risk families receive counseling and case management services for up to six months, working to increase life-skills in areas such as parenting, budgeting, communicating, stress management, debt reduction, and job retention.

Seasonal programs[edit]

  • The Back-to-School Program provides at-risk children with new backpacks and required school supplies enabling them to be prepared for the first day of the school year.
  • The Holiday Programs provide families with food baskets through the Thanksgiving Program and thoughtful, holiday gifts through the Adopt-a-Family Program.

In addition to these services, Families Forward also partners with a network of agencies to provide additional services not available in-house.[1]

"The Art of Giving" annual gala[edit]

Families Forward hosts an annual fundraiser entitled "The Art of Giving".[7]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • In September, 2010 Families Forward was voted among the best places to volunteer in Orange County.[8]
  • In November, 2010 Charity Navigator awarded Families Forward four stars for its fiscal responsibility, noting that 86.8% of donations are spent on its programs and services.[5]
  • In December 2011, Families Forward was featured on an episode of Dr. Phil, where he discussed homelessness and the efforts of organizations to address this problem.[9]
  • In January 2013, Families Forward's board received Orange County, CA-based non-profit services group OneOC's Giving is Living award, for dedicated and innovative governance.[10]
  • In November 2013, founder and executive director Margie Wakeham was awarded the Outstanding Founder award by the Orange County chapter of the National Association of Fundraisers, for her 29 years of philanthropic leadership.[11]

External references[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "About Us". Families-Forward.org. Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  2. ^ "Families Forward". Bask Magazine. 2011-05-18. Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  3. ^ "Families Forward in need of food donations". OCRegister.com. 2011-04-05. Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  4. ^ "Fresh Start For Homeless". newuniversity.org. 2010-01-10. Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  5. ^ a b "Families Forward receives four-star rating". CharityNavigator.com. Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  6. ^ "About us: programs". Families-Forward.org. Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  7. ^ "Paying It Forward Family Style" (PDF). OCBJ.com. Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  8. ^ "Best of Orange County 2010 Winners". OCRegister.com. Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  9. ^ "Dr. Phil". YouTube.com. 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  10. ^ "Living is Giving awards". OneOC.org. 2013-01-28. Retrieved 2014-12-12. 
  11. ^ "Local groups and leader to receive awards for philanthropy". OCRegister.com. 2013-10-01. Retrieved 2014-12-12.