9 Best Charities for Helping Homeless Youth (Complete 2022 List)

9 Best Charities for Helping Homeless Youth (Complete 2022 List)

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Olivia Lopez

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Everyone deserves the right to safe and secure shelter. However, many youth are at risk of homelessness due to failed intervention or readily available support services. And with so many charities advocating for the rights of homeless youth, we had to ask: What are the best charities for helping homeless youth?

The best charities for helping homeless youth are Covenant House, the National Homelessness Law Center, and True Colors United. These charities campaign for more protection of at-risk youth. They also advocate for policy changes and early intervention methods to prevent youth from becoming homeless.

Whether you want to volunteer at a homeless shelter, empower homeless youth, or raise awareness on issues that cause homelessness in youth, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for helping homeless youth are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Related: Did you know that you can make Amazon donate 0.5% of your purchases to a charitable organization of your choice. Sign up at smile.amazon.com, select the charity you want your donations to go to, and make Amazon donate a part of your purchases to your chosen charity at no extra cost to you.

Here’s What All the Best Charities for Helping Homeless Youth Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, transparency ratings, and their commitment to helping homeless youth. They strive to eradicate homelessness amongst youth by advocating for children’s rights, and adequate intervention techniques. 

They also provide a range of support services and programs that empower vulnerable youth, and enable them to feel more dignified. These charities are all dedicated to protecting homeless youth, and minimizing the social and economic issues that can lead to youth homelessness. 

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Helping Homeless Youth

Below are our favorite charities for helping homeless youth:

  • Covenant House
  • National Homelessness Law Center
  • True Colors United
  • StandUp for Kids
  • Save the Children
  • Catholic Charities USA
  • National Network for Youth
  • Ali Forney Center
  • HomeAid America

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

Covenant House: Providing a Safe Space for Homeless Youth

Covenant House was founded in 1972 to protect runaway, homeless, and exploited youth. In 1981, they formed their Latin American branch – Casa Alianza – to support youth amidst the devastating humanitarian crises in Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Today, they maintain their headquarters in New York, and operate homeless shelters and youth programs in 31 cities throughout North America and Central America.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Covenant House holds an Accountability and Transparency score of 97 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

To build a bridge to hope for young people facing homelessness.

Covenant House

What they do: Covenant House aims to reduce youth homelessness by providing essential services and resources to young people in need. They also offer intervention training and programs to prevent vulnerable youth from becoming homeless. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, Covenant House has helped more than 1,000,000 youth with their services. For example, in 2020, they reached more than 50,000 young people across their target countries. In the same year, they reached over 25,000 youth with their education and homelessness prevention programs. They also assisted more than 2,900 youth by helping them transition into stable homes, and secured school enrollments for another 3,100 youth. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to Covenant House by donating through their website. You can also show your support by fundraising on their behalf, or by taking part in a ‘sleep out’ to raise awareness on youth homelessness. 

National Homelessness Law Center: Advancing the Rights of Homeless Youth

The National Homelessness Law Center (NHLC) was founded in 1989 by Maria Foscarinis, a lawyer and advocate for homeless people, to provide pro bono legal resources to homeless people in need. Today, the NHLC employs several legal experts and advocates that help push for equality of homeless people, including vulnerable groups of homeless people, such as youth. With their headquarters based in Washington DC, they work diligently to push for more legal and social protection of homeless people, and especially young people.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The National Homelessness Law Center has an Accountability and Transparency score of 93 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

To help pass, implement and enforce laws addressing the immediate and long-term needs of those who are homeless or at risk.

National Homelessness Law Center

What they do: The National Homelessness Law Center challenges discriminatory legislation that disproportionally affects homeless people, including homeless youth. They also advocate for homeless youth to have better access to education and advocate for policy changes that safeguard homeless youth and keep them in school.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the National Homelessness Law Center has reached more than 3.5 million homeless people, including youth, with their advocacy and work. For example, in 2019, they helped over 246,000 children and youth access education and essential services. In the same year, they also received more than 1,000 endorsements from public officials and national organizations on their ‘Housing Not Handcuffs’ campaign, which seeks to decriminalize homelessness.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to the National Homelessness Law Center by donating online through their website. You can also support their work by endorsing their campaigns to end homelessness.

True Colors United: Reducing Youth Homelessness Through Advocacy

True Colors United was founded in 2008 by Cindi Lauper, Lisa Barbaris, Johnny Podell, and Gregory Lewis, to combat homelessness amongst LGBTQ+ youth. The founders toured several homeless shelters and saw that many lacked resources and support services that catered to LGBTQ+ youth. Today, True Colors United’s main office is based in New York.

Their impact and transparency ratings: True Colors United holds an overall score of 94 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. The organization also has a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2019, they spent approximately 89% of their income on advocacy programs and services. 

To ensure LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness have access to the inclusive and affirming services they need.

True Colors United

What they do: True Colors United works to eradicate homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth through advocacy campaigns. They also provide educational training to help community organizers recognize discrimination against LGBTQ+ youth, and address issues that can lead to youth homelessness.

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, True Colors United has reached more than 2,239 people through their educational training programs. They have also implemented community action plans to decrease LGBTQ+ youth homelessness in 4 US states, including Texas, Tennessee, and Florida. For example, in 2017, they reached 10 communities to help create strategic plans and policy reforms for uplifting LGBTQ+ youth from homelessness.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to True Colors United by donating directly through their website. You can also learn more about homelessness amongst LGBTQ+ youth by enrolling in their Learning Community and taking some courses to show your support.

StandUp for Kids: Safeguarding Children From the Risk of Homelessness

StandUp for Kids was founded in 1990 to provide life-saving services to youth at risk of homelessness. They opened their first shelter in San Diego, and by 2010, they had opened facilities in over 10 US states, including Texas, Arizona, and Virginia. Today, their headquarters is based in Georgia.

Their impact and transparency ratings: StandUp for Kids has a 4-star rating and a Financial score of 99 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2018, they spent nearly 86% of their income on their youth homelessness programs. 

To build communities where all youth know care, feel loved and have a support system to help them move quickly from surviving to thriving.

StandUp for Kids

What they do: StandUp for Kids provides outreach, mentoring, and support services to at-risk youth and youth in need. They work across the US and ensure struggling youth and young people, under the age of 25, receive essential services, including food and housing. They also implement programs to enrich youths’ skills so they can reach their potential. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, StandUp for Kids has reached thousands of youth with their programs and services. For example, in 2019, they assisted 2,290 new youth, and provided over 19,000 meals to youth in need. In the same year, they also delivered apartment support to 323 youth, and gave education and job training to another 456 youth.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to StandUp for Kids by donating directly through their website. They also welcome volunteers to help run their programs and directly assist youth in need. 

Save the Children: Supplying Shelter To Youth in Humanitarian Crises

Save the Children was founded in 1919 by Eglantyne Jebb, to deliver essential services to children in need. Jebb also went on to draft the Declaration of the Rights of a Child, to advocate for global children’s rights. Since then, Save the Children has expanded worldwide and works to protect children in all capacities, including those left homeless from conflict or natural disasters.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Save the Children has a 4-star rating and an Accountability and Transparency score of 97 out of 100, both from Charity Navigator. They also have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2020, nearly 85% of their income was spent on their programs. 

To give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.

Save the Children

What they do: Save the Children aims to safeguard children through educational, health, and security programs. They assist children in humanitarian crises, as well as those deprived of basic needs, such as food, shelter, and safety. They also advocate for public policies that protect children’s rights, and empower vulnerable children.

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, Save the Children has assisted 197 million children in more than 100 countries. For example, in 2015, they provided shelter and basic resources to over 1,000 people in Nepal, including children, that were left homeless after a devastating earthquake. And in 2019, they built shelters and gave emergency relief to approximately 70,000 children in Indonesia, who lost their homes due to an earthquake.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to Save the Children by donating through their website. In addition, you can start a fundraiser in your community, attend some of their events, or volunteer to support children’s rights. They also have an online shop, where you can purchase branded merchandise to support their cause. Finally, you can offer to sponsor a child, so your donations directly support a child’s development.

Catholic Charities USA: Helping Impoverished and Homeless Youth

Catholic Charities USA was founded in 1910 as the National Conference of Catholic Charities, to deliver social and legal services to people from poorer backgrounds, including homeless people. In 1986, the organization’s name was formally changed to Catholic Charities, to showcase their dedication to serving communities across the US. Today, their headquarters is based in Alexandria, Virginia.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Catholic Charities USA holds a 4-star rating, and an Accountability and Transparency score of 96 out of 100, both from Charity Navigator. They have a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. And in 2015, they welcomed their first female president, highlighting their commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace. 

To provide emergency shelters and long-term assistance to vulnerable populations.

Catholic Charities USA

What they do: Catholic Charities USA provides a range of support services to people living in poverty or at risk of homelessness, including youth. They operate several shelters around the US that enable runaways, homeless youth, or exploited young people to receive essential care and immediate support. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, Catholic Charities USA have assisted thousands of homeless youth across the country. For example, their Los Angeles branch reaches approximately 3,000 young people each year through its drop-in center. In 2020, their branch in Minneapolis provided 530,000 nights of housing and shelter to people in need, many of whom were youth. In the same year, they also provided safe housing and shelter to 244 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, while they awaited reuniting with their families. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to Catholic Charities USA by donating through their website. They also welcome other charitable donations, such as real estate, vehicles, and stocks. 

National Network for Youth: Preventing Youth Homelessness Through Intervention

The National Network for Youth was founded in 1976 by community organizers, to provide essential services to youth at risk of homelessness or exploitation. Years later, the organization went on to establish their National Youth Advisory Council, a coalition of young activists across the US with lived experience of homelessness, to advocate for the issues many homeless youth encounter. Today, their headquarters is based in Washington DC.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The National Network for Youth holds a perfect Finance and Accountability score of 100 out of a possible 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2019, they spent nearly 83% of their income on their programs and services.

To prevent and eradicate youth homelessness in America.

National Network for Youth

What they do: The National Network for Youth advocates for children and youth rights through policy changes and community initiatives. They aim to reduce homelessness amongst youth and empower community groups that provide services to youth in need. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, the National Network for Youth has expanded across more than 30 US states to assist community-based organizations with their youth-targeted services. For example, in 2020, they supported 300 community organizations in providing intervention services to youth at risk of homelessness. They also delivered technical training and assistance to 13 communities, to help them better identify the causes of homelessness among youth.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to the National Network for Youth by donating through their website. You can also show your support by attending one of their upcoming events, to learn more about issues affecting homeless youth.

The Ali Forney Center: Supporting Homeless LGBTQ+ Youth

The Ali Forney Center was founded in 2002 by Carl Siciliano, an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, to provide comprehensive housing support to homeless LGBTQ+ youth. Siciliano established the charity in New York City and named the organization after Ali Forney, a gender non-conforming youth who was later murdered on the streets in 1997. Today, the organization operates centers across New York City and provides safeguarding services to vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth.

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Ali Forney Center has a Finance and Accountability score of 85 out of 100 from Charity Navigator. They also have an impressive Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. For example, in 2019, nearly 73% of their income was spent on LGBTQ+ youth programs and services. 

To protect LGBTQ+ youths from the harms of homelessness and empower them with the tools needed to live independently.

The Ali Forney Center

What they do: The Ali Forney Center supports homeless LGBTQ+ youth with livelihood resources, such as food and shelter. They also offer medical assistance, educational support, and job readiness training to empower youth and prepare them for the future. Their centers are spread across New York City and are open to at-risk and vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth that need emergency assistance or immediate care. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the Ali Forney Center has provided homelessness and aid services to more than 2,000 youth. They offer approximately 58 beds in furnished apartments and enable youth to gain independence as they transition out of the apartments. Within their programs, they have also delivered over 300,000 meals to homeless LGBTQ+ youth across 18 centers in New York City. 

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to the Ali Forney Center by donating directly through their website. You can also show your support by volunteering with the organization’s drop-in center, or by providing fundraising or administrative assistance.

HomeAid America: Constructing Safe Housing For Homeless Youth

HomeAid America was founded in 1989 by a grassroots organization to provide housing to the homeless, including homeless youth. Their initial work started with small remodeling projects, and soon expanded to building new homes and facilities to accommodate large families and vulnerable populations. Today, their headquarters is based in California.

Their impact and transparency ratings: HomeAid America holds a 4-star rating and a perfect Accountability and Transparency score of 100 out of 100, both from Charity Navigator. They also have a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

To help people experiencing or at risk of homelessness build new lives through construction, community engagement, and education.

HomeAid America

What they do: HomeAid America strives to end homelessness among at-risk individuals, such as youth, with tailored support services. They provide housing options, outreach, and educational resources to vulnerable groups suffering from homelessness. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, HomeAid America has provided safe housing to more than 520,000 homeless people, including homeless youth. They have 19 active chapters, serving homeless people and youth in more than 10 US states, including Minnesota, Florida, and Texas. They have also completed more than 1,000 construction projects for homeless people, including homeless youth. For example, in 2020, they completed 1 new shelter in Oregon to accommodate vulnerable, adolescent women, and began constructing another in Colorado.

Ways to contribute: You can contribute to HomeAid America by donating directly through their website. You can also support their work by volunteering with one of their local chapters.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for helping homeless youth. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarize yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing the progress a charity makes in reaching its targets, the chances are not making positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is just up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to helping homeless youth – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Brittany



PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

Sources

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Olivia Lopez

Olivia loves to research and write about all things related to social justice. She holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights and has worked and interned with a number of NGOs, including the UN. When she’s not writing, she likes to take her dog for walks, cook Mexican food, and learn new languages.

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