The Bauman Foundation’s Preventive Approach to Youth Poverty

“Systemic” social change: That's goal of the Bauman Foundation. Its late founder, Lionel Bauman, made a point of going after the root causes of glaring social problems and not simply treating their symptoms.

The Bauman Foundation carries on his legacy in many issue areas, including youth services. While its grantmaking team funds outreach for homeless youth and foster youth, it reserves its biggest shares for groups that help at-risk youth to avoid landing on the streets or in the foster system in the first place—or, if they are already in such circumstances, to transition into stable homes as soon as possible.

Bauman’s grantees serve youth of all age groups and offer all types of help: one-on-one counseling, family therapy, job training, and legal representation, to name a few. There are two common threads: The programs work directly with the youth and their families, and they equip people with not only material goods and cash assistance, but with training and education to improve their lives through their own efforts.

The Center for Family Representation is a great example. Bauman gave it $2,000 this year in general support for the legal representation and social-work services it offers to troubled families whose children could be removed and placed in foster care. The center’s goal is to resolve family problems so that social services won’t have to make an intervention. The Ackerman Institute for the Family, which administers couples and family therapy, along with the means for resolving family difficulties, got a similar $1,500 general-support grant from Bauman. 

Some grantees work with youths who are already in a bad place and in need of help to find something better. Our House Youth Home is one of these; it hosts GED preparation, job counseling and hands-on vocational training for boys who are abandoned, abused, homeless, or orphaned. Bauman gave it $85,000 over a four-year period for its efforts—$35,000 in general support a few years back and, more recently, $50,000 for a “farm project.”

Policy advocacy is a priority for Bauman, too. The foundation looks for organizations that advocate for ways to make our existing public services better and reduce poverty overall. The Coalition on Human Needs, an alliance of groups that campaign for public policies that stand to benefit low-income populations, especially minorities, got $25,000 from Bauman in one year. The Coalition isn’t children-specific, but children are a large segment of the populations that it’s trying to help—relieving poverty is arguably a crucial step toward making sure that fewer children are abandoned, abused, or left homeless.

Now for some bad news. Bauman does not accept unsolicited proposals, nor unsolicited letters of inquiry. So you will need to strike up a connection with a member of the board or staff. On the upside, Bauman doesn't seem locked in with the same unchanging group of grantees, which is often the case with smaller funders. So, in theory, anyway, the door would seem open for new organizations doing good work.