Pasadena Foster Care Hillsides Awarded $5 Million Grant – Pasadena Now

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Pasadena Foster Care Hillsides Awarded $5 Million Grant

Pasadena-based foster care Hillsides was awarded the largest grant in the organization’s history to the tune of $5 million Tuesday to help continue to fund essential services for former foster care and transition-aged young people aged in Southern California.

The generous grant was made by the Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation, which is known for contributions towards programs that support at-risk youth.

In recognition of the gift, Hillsides will name the new 34,000 square-foot student center that is
currently under construction on Hillsides main campus in Pasadena the Margie and Robert
E. Petersen Student Center.

“Hillsides serves more than 1,400 transition-aged-youth, and we are dedicated to leading new initiatives that advance housing, employment, and mental health services for Los Angeles County youth,” said Hillsides President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph M. Costa.

“We are overjoyed and incredibly appreciative of this historic gift that will allow us to provide a much-needed continuum of care for this vulnerable population,” added Costa.

The $5 million check presented at the campus Tuesday morning was the largest donation made to Hillsides in the organization’s 104 year history.

“The reason why this is so important is that the investment we make in these kids and their families this year will pay off for generations. The services that we offer here are able to get kids back into their communities, ease the problems that they’ve experienced, and help them to be successful once again in a general sense of well being,” Costa said.

Hillsides provides high quality care, advocacy and innovative services that promote safe and permanent environments where children and youth can thrive.

Headquartered in Pasadena, the agency and its affiliate Bienvenidos serves 13,000 children and families in Southern California throughout its 33 sites, including school-based mental health offices in Los Angeles, Pasadena and Baldwin Park.

“This is one of our core focuses and we have donated to similar programs and organizations in the past. However, this is our largest gift to this segment,” said Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation Director Kevin Strauch.

The Foundation was established by the late Robert E. Petersen and his wife Margie, who made their fortune as founders of Petersen Publishing. He was also the creator of “Hot Rod” magazine and established the Petersen Automotive Museum in L.A.

Over the years, the Foundation has become synonymous with giving significant gifts to organizations that serve youth — such as the Blind Children’s Center, St. Jude’s, and the Boys and Girls Club to name a few, according to Inside Philanthropy.

“Hillsides serves our goal of helping transitional youth and it’s a wonderful program. It’s a program that was brought to our attention and that the Board and Advisors gravitated toward and held onto it. We’re supportive of it. It’s a national problem, but we’re contributing on a local level,” said Strauch.

The soon to be erected Margie and Robert E. Petersen Student Center is part of a $17.1 million capital improvement project to update and re-imagine Hillsides’ Pasadena campus.

It will replace infrastructure that is nearly a century old and includes new art and music studios, a large indoor gym and recreation room, a modernized kitchen and a spacious new dining commons built above a subterranean parking garage.

“We have spent the last four years intensely planning these exciting improvements to our aging facilities, and we are thrilled to take the first steps toward a modernized, more comprehensive campus,” said Costa. “During the planning phase, we tried to imagine all the elements our children would need to be happy, healthy, and safe, and this new recreational corridor has it all.”

According to Costa, the new building will provide a variety of essential services signature to Hillsides.

“It will create a real hub for the residents who are a part of our treatment program,” said Costa.

All renovations should be complete by December, 2018.

“It’s not really about the building. It’s about the ability to serve the youth more,” said Strauch about the activity center.

“Hopefully other organizations can see that there is a problem and maybe we can lead the way and be an example for others who might want to help eradicate this problem,” said Strauch.

The Pasadena campus consists of residential treatment services for 125 children and 300 family members annually and a therapeutic residential/day school, Hillsides Education Center, that offers academic support with psychological and clinical services to 130 students and some 260 family members annually.

Hillsides serves transition-aged youth through its five core programs: Bienvenidos Foster Care and Adoptions that provides home-based family care services; Hillsides Education Center, a nationally accredited therapeutic non-public residential and day school; Family Resource Centers, which offer community-based mental health services; Residential Treatment Services for children who are in foster care or cannot live at home for other reasons; and Youth Moving On, which offers housing services, workforce development and a Peer Resource drop-in center for transition-aged youth.

To learn more about the agencies, visit and

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