St. Francis House Receives $400,000 Grant from the Yawkey Foundation

We are proud to announce that we have received a $400,000 Strategic Investment grant from the Yawkey Foundation in support of pre-construction expenses for renovations at our 39 Boylston Street location. These upgrades are a critical step forward in our efforts to provide comprehensive, compassionate, trauma informed services to adults experiencing homelessness. The Yawkey Foundation has been a longtime, generous supporter of our mission, and this is their largest single gift ever to the organization.

Our services are based in the former headquarters of Boston Edison, which was built in 1912. The Yawkey Foundation’s Strategic Investment grant will help transform the chaotic and institutional interior of the building into a restorative, healing space. Funding will support planning and design for major renovations to the first three and sixth floors. Renovations will include upgrades to SFH’s lobby, elevators, clothing distribution center, Women’s Center, Expressive Therapies Art Studio, dining room, and the establishment of an intensive outpatient clinic for substance use disorders. When renovations are complete, our facilities will no longer be a barrier to guest engagement. Instead, they will complement the organization’s trauma informed services by creating an environment which promotes recovery and personal connection.

“St. Francis House’s goal is to inspire people experiencing homelessness to believe in themselves, knowing that with the right complement of services offered at the right time, people of all capabilities and circumstances can change the trajectory of their lives,” said Karen LaFrazia, President & CEO of St. Francis House. “We are grateful to the Trustees of the Yawkey Foundation for this grant, and their longstanding support of our mission. We are eager to continue building on our partnership, and together, work toward creating a space that is both beautiful and centered on the recovery and the dignity of the people that it serves.”

We work to fill a gap in services in Greater Boston, providing much-needed support to hundreds of adults experiencing homelessness each day, when overnight emergency shelters are closed. Our Refuge Services include access to meals, clothing, showers, IDs, and mailroom services. Readiness Services provide drop-in, low-threshold support, and include access to the Resource Center, Women’s Center, Expressive Therapy Art Studio, and the Recovery Support Center. Recovery Services focus on individualized programming and support including clinical and case management, workforce development, permanent housing, housing stabilization services, and a soon to be substance use disorder intensive outpatient treatment clinic.

Catalyzed by the Yawkey Foundation’s gift, the re-envisioning of space at 39 Boylston Street will bolster our capacity and help more adults experiencing homelessness find pathways to stability. With these renovations, SFH expects to:

  • Increase the number of guests participating in programs beyond Refuge Services by transitioning an additional 1,000 individuals into Readiness Programs.
  • Make it possible for an additional 300 guests each year to take positive steps and move into Recovery programs.
  • Double the number of guests who achieve housing/income/and behavioral health stability.

“The Trustees are delighted to make this strategic investment in St. Francis House’s renovation plans to create an updated, improved, and welcoming environment for its guests,” said Maureen H. Bleday, Chief Executive Officer & Trustee of the Yawkey Foundation. “Since the Foundation began supporting St. Francis House 19 years ago, we have developed a close understanding and deep admiration for the organization’s commitment to providing guests with compassionate care, resources, and pathways to self-sufficiency. Helping those experiencing or at-risk of homelessness was a cause that was very close to the hearts of our founders, Tom Yawkey and Jean Yawkey, which makes this grant especially meaningful.”

In addition to financial support from the Yawkey Foundation, we have partnered with the global architectural team, MASS Design Group, to re-imagine interior spaces. Their mission is to research, build, and advocate for architecture that promotes justice and human dignity.

We look forward to serving guests in a new, welcoming space to support their path to stability in the coming years.