Delancey Street Foundation
Join us in helping the Delancey Street Foundation (DSF, Ranch, Community): Dates will be Tuesdays and Saturdays…. or name a date and time ! We hope to return in person to the DSF when covid subsides. Please contact us in the meantime for more information!! Thanks
1) Delancey Street Foundation maintains Residential Education Communities for people who have hit bottom and who are disenfranchised.
Our residential population represents the most challenging constituency of people in generational poverty with multiple social problems.
During that time residents learn not only academic and vocational skills, but also interpersonal, social-survival skills along with the attitudes, values, sense of responsibility, self-reliance and earned sense of pride necessary to live in the mainstream of society drug free, crime free, successfully and legitimately.
The organization functions on several principles:
1) We have developed an educational model rather than a therapeutic model to solve social problems.
It is a total learning center in which every aspect of life is taught by residents to residents on an “each one teach one” principle, where older residents help newer ones and everyone works.
2) Delancey Street functions not as a “program” but as an extended family and as a community in which everyone is an important giver as well as receiver in the process of changing their lives.
Each resident at Delancey Street learns a minimum three marketable skills by working in Delancey Street training schools.
Some of the training schools generate the funding that supports Delancey Street’s activities.
3) Delancey Street’s focus is value based with a strong traditional family value system stressing the work ethic, mutual restitution, social and personal accountability and responsibility, decency and integrity.
President Mimi Silbert was the developer and Delancey Street was its own general contractor for this unique development called “a masterpiece of social design” by Pulitzer prize winning architectural critic, Allen Temko.
Covering an entire city block, this four story complex contains street level retail stores, a highly acclaimed public restaurant, a screening room written up as one of the top three in San Francisco, a highly reviewed cafe bookstore and art gallery, housing units for 500 that overlook a Mediterranean-style courtyard which also holds a vast array of educational and recreation facilities for the residents.
This was an unprecedented vocational training program, providing over 300 formerly unemployable drug addicts, homeless people and ex-felons in Delancey Street every skill in the building trades (with the support of the Building Trade Unions) as well as training in purchasing, contracting, computer and accounting services.
While we are, of course, proud of our activities and achievements, particularly because all have been accomplished by our residents themselves, we believe that because of these successes, we have a larger responsibility to see that our mission extends beyond reclaiming the individual lives we have served to date into teaching the model to other states and nations who are experiencing the same horrific problems.
Delancey Street has been viewed and reviewed by a wide variety of people.
Karl Menninger (the founder of the Menninger’s Clinic and often considered the grandfather of the American mental health movement at its height) conducted a long-term study on Delancey Street graduates that demonstrated a phenomenal success rate of 98%.
All the studies demonstrated success among Delancey Street Foundation participants.
Before Delancey Street, Shirley spent 20 years with violence, drugs, and prostitution, homeless on the streets and in and out of jail.
She was repeatedly beaten and sexually abused, not only as a child by people her mother and grandmother brought into the home, but later by pimps and people on the streets where she lived.
She stayed in Delancey Street four years nd she gained a high school equivalency, a diploma from vocational college, computer and secretarial skills, sales skills, and an incredible ability to love and help others.
After she graduated from Delancey Street, she worked to turn around the lives of her children and grandchildren and recently proudly watched a granddaughter spurn prostitution, the streets, drugs, and crime, and become the first in the family to graduate from high school, and go on to college.
Shirley has run a Safe and Sober Living Home for formerly homeless people with mental health and drug problems.
She developed and currently runs a county jail program for substance abusers that is modeled after Delancey Street.
When we look at the individual stories of the more than 18,000 graduates, the long-term impacts are not only their successful lives, but also the new and exciting lives of their children and grandchildren and the generations to come.
The rewards of the struggle for success and the long-term impact of Delancey Street is the broken cycle of poverty, drugs, violence and crime, and a new cycle of learning, caring, economic, personal and family stability for many thousands of families once without hope.
The long-term impact of our work is also realized when Delancey opens a new door through which hundreds more can follow to gain access to opportunity.
The long-term impact is seen every time a new entrepreneurial venture is successfully developed and managed by former unskilled residents.
The fact that there are thousands of residents who have not only broken the cycle of poverty, drugs, and crime, but who have gone on to start their own businesses in communities throughout the world, each employing others who were once in poverty, is to us an immeasurable and unstoppable impact.
The long-term impact and struggle for success at Delancey Street is also rewarded by the acknowledgement of others that although these social problems are pervasive, they can be solved, and they can be solved without high costs or hired professionals; they can be solved by the very people with the problems.
Every time a customer eats at our restaurant, reads the back of the menu, and shows pleasant surprise to learn that their friendly waiter once had such problems and that indeed the entire venture is conducted by former felons, drug addicts, and homeless people, an attitude is changed.
Every time an article is written nationally or internationally or a TV program is shown about Delancey Street, and it teaches people that former felons and former substance abusers, that people from poverty with multiple social problems can have high achievements and can help others, an important long-term impact has occurred on the public’s attitude towards these problems.
In summary, we have had positive long-term impact by creating communities of hope and change, by graduating thousands of productive and decent citizens who then reunite and turn around the lives of their families and children and grandchildren, and all work together to move society forward.
But we know that as rewarding as these successes are, the true struggle for a just world where the people in it can all lead lives of health and purpose and integrity, can live together without violence, and can make impossible dreams happen, that is a never ending struggle for us and for so many others working so hard together.
DSF is the parent corporation of four nonprofit corporations that operate the six Residential Educational Communities that are the heart of Delancey Street.
Delancey Street North Carolina operates a Residential Educational Community in Greensboro, North Carolina, Delancey Street New Mexico, Inc.
Articles, studies, books, films, and even music depict the tremendous loss to society in terms of human lives and financial costs of drug addiction, crime, violence, entrenched poverty, illiteracy, lack of job skills or work habits, domestic violence and child abuse.
There is a growing belief that these problems can’t be solved and that the people who have the problems cannot change.
The problem of our model is that we rely on the people with the social problems to be the solution to those problems.
What that means is that we are relying on people who have failed in school to be teachers; we are relying on people who have never worked and have no skills to run our restaurant, our moving company, to earn our money, and to manage our entire organization.
And because our residents graduate once they have gained the attitudes, values, skills, talents and strengths they need, we are always relying on new people to keep the organization going.