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2023 Impact Report | The Story of Our Year



Our Vision

“Community as Family” provides consistency, stability, and trust to people of all ages with lived experience in foster care.


Our Mission

Peace4Kids is creating a safe community where youth in foster care thrive and form lasting connections.


Our Guiding Principles

Celebrate wholeness, assets, and strengths.

Encourage agency, voice, and choice.

Collaborate with youth to discover and incubate innovative community ideas.

Be flexible and adaptable to manage change.

Nurture intergenerational relationships and support.

Activate co-regulation approaches that create safe spaces for youth who experience foster care and trauma.


Peace4Kids in 2023: Four Key Themes 

A message from Zaid GayleZaid_Gayle__white_BG__2024.webp

As we come to a close on 25 years of service, we experienced several defining moments that contributed to our growth and development. Here are the major themes that emerged:

  1. Deepening Support for Mental Health: Recognizing the lasting impact of the pandemic on transition-aged youth, we expanded services to prioritize mental health and wellness. Our clinical and therapeutic support team collaborated with youth to create programs designed to help them discover their talents, expand their networks, and set meaningful goals, emphasizing their inherent resilience as individuals.
  2. Addressing Implicit Biases and TrainingWe continue to conduct and amplify research on implicit biases towards youth in foster care, leading to the development of new training programs. These efforts aim to create safer spaces for youth impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress, fostering understanding and empathy among helping professionals.
  3. Strengthening Staffing Capacity: In response to growing community needs, we expanded our team and prioritized training for new members, including volunteers and interns. Mental Health First Aid training was provided to enhance the ability of all community members to support youth in crisis and foster communal healing.
  4. Creating Safe Spaces for Growth: Collaborating with experts like Dr. Niki Elliott, we're focusing on creating safe environments essential for growth and development of youth. This involved training young leaders to co-regulate spaces and redesigning physical environments to promote wellness and a sense of safety, culminating in plans for a dedicated retreat center to nurture healing and connection with nature.

Nothing we’ve accomplished in the last 25 years would have been possible without our youth. In the face of an increasingly complicated world, they inspire us to innovate and approach the world thoughtfully. They challenge us to be empathetic, nonjudgmental, and honor where they are in their process, showing empathy and understanding without victimizing them. As the foundation of our community, they ground us in our guiding principles. It's truly an honor to work alongside them, and I'm thrilled for our next 25 years.

In peace and possibilities ~

“Together we're shaping a future where every youth can THRIVE.”


Our Programmatic Work

Since 1998, youth and young adults have engaged in 245,500 hours of connective programming.



We provide integrated programs and personalized navigation services for children, youth, and adults with lived foster care experience as well as training, tools and resources for those supporting them.





Peace4Kids Saturday Program

Realizing "Community as Family" requires...

  • Youth feeling part of safe and secure communities.
  • Youth having greater access to mental health supports and services.
  • Improved self and social awareness.
  • Greater social and emotional competence.
  • Optimistic thinking.
  • Stable and trusting relationships with caregivers, adults and peers.


As part of our commitment to promoting improved well-being, increased agency, and goal-directed behavior in 2023, we supported:


As a strengths-based organization, the activities youth engage in are centered around their individual and collective strengths and interests. Peace4Kids offers something different every Saturday; one week the little ones go fishing while the older youth attend college preparation workshops, the next week some youth build robotics while others take a museum field trip. 

Thank you to our community members for sharing their spaces, donating in-kind services and hosting memories that will live on for a lifetime.

The BeeHive Chadwick School | Los Angeles ChargersLA County Parks and Recreation | National Charity League, Palos Verdes | Laguna Fabrics The Lopilato Family | USC Viterbi School of Engineering


“I feel safe being myself at Peace4Kids and know there are people here who can support”.

- Peace4Kids Youth




This year, we captured hundreds of magical moments. Here are some of our favorites!


“Peace4Kids is my home”.

- Peace4Kids Youth


57% more supportive services for transition-aged youth



Transformational Healing. Responsible Independence. Visionary Exploration.

Through - T.H.R.I.V.E. -  youth and young adults, ages 16-26, have the choice to volunteer, attend group gatherings, or receive 1:1 coaching support around requested topics. 

Why THRIVE? If adulthood is a journey with detours, exciting twists & turns, roadblocks, and scenic views, THRIVE is a road trip ally. Youth drive, our team brings the snacks and supports navigation.

Our Mental Health & Wellness Team offers comprehensive services and resources designed to address the 7 Dimensions of Wellness, because life is all about balance ⚖️ and juggling. From finding a job to looking for housing, all while addressing physical, emotional, intellectual and social needs.

🔌 THRIVE is all about keeping youth connected and plugged in with the tools, resources, folks, and support needed to OWN this phase of their life like a pro. Here's how we connected in 2023:


The Peace4Kids family places high value on the safety, needs, perspectives and contributions of our community and peers.



Our Community Days celebrate the vibrancy of our youth and the deeply interwoven fabric of our community.

Connecting Community Resources


Increased caregiver support

Caregivers play a crucial role in providing physical, emotional, and social support to our youth. In addition, they play an essential role in coordinating and advocating on behalf of young people, serving as liaisons and supporting their various and frequently complex needs. Caregivers also ensure that young people have access to the necessary resources and services they need to succeed.

We've increased our support to our caregiver community, not only providing respite, but connecting them to key resources that ensure continuity of care. In addition to providing caregivers with access to education, training, and support, we provide them with the opportunity to connect with other caregivers, allowing them to create a supportive community.


"All of you are amazing and a Godsend to the community of Black & Brown kids. 🙏🏽🙌🏾😊💗"

"You all put on such nice events for the children. Thanks!!"

"Thank you for always thinking about my family and reaching out to us. It means so much."

"Bringing my grandsons to Peace4kids has been a great experience. I love Peace4kids and all the Volunteers."

- Caregiver Comments




Volunteers are a vital part of our community

Volunteers are the heartbeat of Peace4Kids, infusing our organization with passion, dedication, and a diverse range of skills and perspectives.

Their invaluable contributions enrich every aspect of our work, from mentorship programs to administrative support, and beyond. With their selfless commitment, volunteers create meaningful connections with our youth, serving as role models, advocates, and sources of inspiration. Their presence not only expands our capacity to reach and impact more lives but also fosters a sense of community and belonging that is essential for the growth and well-being of our youth. At Peace4Kids, volunteers are not just supporters; they are integral members of our family, driving positive change and supporting our youth to realize their full potential.



"I had no idea what was in store for me. The connections that we make, and the essence of Community as Family makes me feel complete"

- Peace4Kids Volunteer


We're expanding our reach, replicating ideologically

275 helping professionals have participated in our immersive Heart Centered Justice Course designed for educators, health professionals, caregivers, administrators, social service providers and community members who support youth outcomes. 

We aim to create secure and nurturing spaces for young individuals impacted by adversity and toxic stress.


"This session was really informative and I learned a lot that will help build and even strengthen my connections/relationship with children."

"I loved every moment, the HAVS are going to be incredibly useful in my life."

"I feel like I got a really helpful reframe on the value of self-regulation and the power that can have."

"I appreciated meeting with people who not only have a heart for the children but also, an intellectual awareness of the body and mind."

- Course Attendee Comments


Financial & Operational Growth

Peace4Kids is proud to report another cycle of strong support from our amazing donor family, allowing us to expand our reach with greater impact.

We remain committed to fiscal prudence, maximizing donor contribution and volunteer participation to ensure sustainability and deliver quality programming.


“Your model is profound. Because you've built long lasting connections, you're not trying to invest in the relationship while putting out the fire”.

- Foundation Grant Program Manager

2024: Looking forward to the future and the possibilities ahead.

Challenges present an opportunity for growth.

In the wake of the pandemic, everyone has been affected, but youth are particularly vulnerable. We've been adapting and making changes to navigate through the past few years. By approaching with a positive mindset, we can turn challenges into stepping stones towards success. Embrace the journey, stay resilient, and keep moving forward.

✔️ Mental Health & Wellness: A 2023 Pew Research Report identified that mental concerns top the list of worries for caregivers and parents. Research is continuing to emerge assessing the impacts of the pandemic on children's mental health. And while young people in foster care faced a mental health crisis before COVID-19, the pandemic exacerbated the issue for many.

✔️ Perceptions of Youth in Foster CareYoung leaders from vastly different experiences in the foster care system unearthed an overlooked yet consequential idea: the people tasked with caring for us “think we are criminals.” The revelation shared was unsettling, but collectively true. What does it mean to navigate an unfriendly world and a child welfare system that inherently views youth as the problem? Explore the story and research.

✔️ Access to Green & Blue SpacesIt's clear that green and blue spaces provide a respite from high-density urban settings that affect mental and emotional well-being. A new study shows the long term beneficial impact. The lack of parks in our community is no secret. 

✔️ Lack of Affordable Housing: We experience the results of Los Angeles' affordable housing crisis on a daily basis. Young people are increasingly disadvantaged by housing disparities as they begin to navigate adulthood. Minimum wages are not increasing at the same rate as inflation in rent and the cost of basic living expenses. In the long run, struggling to pay rent for stable housing can lead to physical and mental health issues.


2024 | Meeting the Moment

Moving forward, embracing the journey.



Finding Home | Community Retreat

Our vision pulses with vitality: we're building a community nature retreat center promoting mindfulness, healing, and dynamic collaboration. In a bold move forward, we secured 20 acres in 2023 to breathe life into our dream. Emerging from the pandemic, our youth overwhelmingly advocated for a natural space that incorporates these key elements:

RESTORATIVE: Explore nature to heal the body from daily stressors.

RELEASE: Stress relief through arts, physical expression, and cathartic activities.

MINDFULNESS: Use evidence-based practices like breathwork to improve wellbeing.

TEAM BUILDING: Build connections and strengths, promoting compassion and growth.

As we dive into Phase 1 of our project, we're gearing up for an exciting milestone: the official kick-off of our capital campaign. If you would like more information about the project or are interested in supporting it, please contact Zaid Gayle.



Heart Centered Educators

In partnership with Dr. Niki Elliot, over 30 community members will be certified as Heart Centered Educators. 

Our collaborative program focuses on co-regulation techniques and training others to support children impacted by trauma.

Our Heart Centered Educators provide clinical training to helping professionals (caregivers, educators, health care providers, social workers and volunteers) in our evidence based approach. We have trained hundreds of helping professionals in our pedagogy, and are in the process of launching a self-paced program to reach a wider audience. Most of all, our Heart Centered Educators are eager to support the healing of others who have experienced foster care.



Expanding Our Research

Our research provides evidence that unique approaches to child welfare are viable. 

Through a partnership with Unyte Health, we're introducing the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) to our community, a listening therapy to help us think, feel, and connect better.

Auditory processing is a window into the nervous system. Using Polyvagal Theory, SSP retunes the nervous system so it is more regulated and resilient to life's challenges by training it to recognize calming frequencies and enhance autonomic regulation by changing how it responds to environmental cues.

We will examine how helping professionals can become more effective co-regulators, creating safe spaces for brain and body integration to achieve long-term, impactful results.




Featuring intergenerational leaders with foster care experience and distinct expertise, ROCMove focuses on changing how youth in foster care are framed and represented in media. They are creating a healthier culture and experience for young people in care through research, book publishing, and podcasts.

In April 2024 we'll launch our second book, "Nani", where author and illustrator Mir Cortez-Cáceres depicts her foster care journey from the perspective of a shooting star. Cast out from her home, Nani, sets out on a quest for safety and affection. Despite her lack of knowledge about her past, she is guided by an unwavering determination to find her "home”. 

A third book, written and illustrated by members of the community is in the works for later this year!



Our Northstar. Always.

Kasserian Ingera in Swahili means, "And how are the children?" The traditional greeting acknowledges the high value the Masai place on their children's well-being

Even modern Masai with no children of their own give the traditional answer, “All the children are well,” confirming: We live in peace and safety, protecting the young and powerless is our priority, and we are mindful of the purpose and responsibilities of our society.


Heartfelt thanks to all of our partners who invest in our work.

Our Partners

Your support is critical to our mission, and we are honored that you have chosen to invest in our work. Your donations are used with care and thoughtfulness to make a meaningful difference in our community.


Support community programming for youth in foster care.