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Prince Charitable Trusts Helps Mercy Home Youth Transition to Independent Lives
When Mercy Home for Boys & Girls was founded in 1887, it was to offer a solution to the growing number of homeless boys in the streets of Chicago. Sadly, more than a century later, the problem persists as thousands of young people still struggle to find a stable place to call home.
In the 2018-2019 school year, more than 16,000 Chicago Public School students lived without permanent housing. While Mercy Home has expanded its model of care significantly in 133 years, at our core we remain a safe haven for kids who have no place left to turn. It’s a mission that is only possible thanks to generous donors like our friends at Prince Charitable Trusts.
Prince Charitable Trusts is a family foundation that was established in 1947 by Frederick H. Prince and his wife Abbie Norman Prince. The foundation supports programs in three U.S. cities, but their roots run deepest in Chicago.
It’s here where Prince made his fortune through his ownership of the Chicago stockyards and railroad interests. Though he didn’t have specific wishes for how his descendants operated the foundation, he thought it would be nice if they supported youth and health issues.
“Over 60 years of grantmaking, we know we’ve helped some terrific organizations fulfill their mission, and that’s very gratifying,” said Charles Twichell, executive director at Prince Charitable Trusts.
In the last several years, Prince Charitable Trusts has supported different aspects of Mercy Home’s mission. But now, in an effort to end youth homelessness, their focus is aimed towards our independent and transitional living programs. Through these programs, we provide housing for older youth as they establish independent living skills, attend school, work, and learn to manage their finances.
Over 60 years of grantmaking, we know we’ve helped some terrific organizations fulfill their mission, and that’s very gratifying.
Ending youth homelessness is part of a new strategy by Prince Charitable Trusts to meet the most pressing needs in Chicago. This new strategy also includes support of sports-based youth development programs, gun violence reduction programs and youth and mental behavioral health programs.
“We’ve really been cognizant of trying to put our dollars on the frontline of the really important issues facing the city that we hadn’t done in the past,” Twichell explained.
One reason Prince Charitable Trusts partners with Mercy Home in their fight to end youth homelessness is because they understand the importance of the long-term support we provide for young people. Once youth transition out of our full-time care, they continue to receive support and services through our Community Care program.
“We know that the issues that face youth who are experiencing homelessness are deep and significant,” Twichell said. “And to really see these amazing young people transition into independent and successful lives takes that long view.”
Prince Charitable Trusts has made a tremendous impact in the lives of our young people over the years, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they truly went above and beyond. In addition to the support they already provide, they awarded emergency relief funding for many of the grantees in their ending youth homelessness program, which included Mercy Home.
“We just knew that you and your colleague organizations that are serving homeless youth – you are the lifeline for these young people,” said Twichell. “You have to be as strong as you can be so that they can be as strong as they can be.”
Thanks to this additional support, we were able to immediately respond to the crisis and provide deliveries of warm meals, groceries and other essential items to our kids and families. And like it has for millions of Americans, the pandemic has financially impacted the young people in our independent living program.
In practicing life skills, these youth are normally responsible for paying rent and buying their own groceries. But thanks in part to the emergency relief support from Prince Charitable Trusts, we are able to cover these costs for them this year as they navigate this unforeseen crisis.
We are humbled by the incredible support of our friends at Prince Charitable Trusts. It’s truly an honor to be included in their efforts to end youth homelessness in the city of Chicago. We hope that someday the need for youth housing will not be so drastic, but until then, we will continue to stand strong with our supporters and be a port in the storm for those who need it most.