Kathy Phillips, Board Member Emeritus

Kathy is the founding president of the board of Friends.  She is also an Educational Consultant working with youth with learning challenges and supporting program development for various educational and social service non-profits.  She has over 40 years’ experience with youth including more than 20 years in programs that support youth in foster care.  She is retired from St. John’s Educational Thresholds Center (now Mission Graduates) in San Francisco where she was the Executive Director for six years. She also directed the educational and vocational program for young parents at Florence Crittenton Services in San Francisco for 15 years. 

"We saw so many foster youth leaving the system lacking the necessary resources to pay for the costs of education and the basic needs that would allow them to take the next steps to self-sufficiency. Forming Friends of ILSP was the logical thing to do."

Jerika L. Heinze

Jerika is a cultural anthropologist, a California native and an advocate for educational access, specifically for oppressed communities, minorities, survivors of abuse, and former foster youth. She is currently in the final year of her Ph.D at Radboud University, researching issues of debt and inequality in Greece, and also teaches several introductory anthropology courses. She is a Guardian Scholars graduate of UC Davis and SFSU, and is currently a Leventis Fellowship holder. She joined the Board of  Foster Youth Rising to apply her passions for youth empowerment, drawing from her own experiences navigating the difficulties of academia as a self funded student. In her free time, she enjoys travel, spending time with loved ones, playing piano, exploring nature, photography, animals, and vegetarian cooking.

A Legacy of Giving

Founded in 2005, with grants from George and Anne Yamasaki and United Way of the Bay Area, Foster Youth Rising (formerly Friends of ILSP) has awarded over $300,000 in grants to over 280 foster youth.

Foster Youth Rising

NEW Developments

Foster Youth Rising connects youth with "life" opportunities, such as career development mentoring and other resources to help fuel higher education goals.

Our Founding Board Members

Mary Nguyen, Member

Mary has extensive volunteer and programming experience with organizations championing economic empowerment, social welfare, and youth leadership. She is very passionate about women and minority representation in STEM. Causes very near and dear to her heart include education and science and technology and youth. She has spent time in leadership positions, guiding others in fundraising and program development for non-profit organizations. She mentors youth interested in careers in technology. Currently, she is a product manager at Twitter in information technology enterprise applications, specializing in the implementation, maintenance, and development of support applications for business functions. 

Vacant, Treasurer

History of Foster Youth Rising

Arlene Hylton, Member

Arlene is a founding member of Friends and is the Resource Family Liaison and a Recruiter  for the San Francisco Human Services Agency. She was formerly the Program Director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency, Independent Living Skills Program. A youth advocate with nearly thirty years of experience in all aspects of child, youth, and family policy development and intergovernmental collaboration, she is committed to improving conditions for youth in foster care and in achieving a healthy transition into adulthood. For many years she also served as the adult supporter for the California Youth Connection’s San Francisco Chapter working to promote the participation of foster youth in state, policy development, and legislative changes in an effort to improve social work practices and child welfare policy. 

Arlene Hylton, former Director of the San Francisco Independent Living Skills Program and Kathleen Phillips, former Director of Mission Graduates, started Friends in 2005 when they saw that there were critical gaps in funding for foster youth who were transitioning of out care.

Arlene Hylton & Kathleen Phillips

Funding foster youth success one grant at a time...

Significant Impact

Nationwide, only ten percent of foster youth enroll in college because they lack the  necessary money. San Francisco beats those odds by sending six times as many youth to college.

Siobhan Guthrie

Siobhan is a Client Strategist at PricewaterhouseCooopers where she supports the firm's priority retail and consumer product accounts. Siobhan has seventeen years experience in market and account development, specializing in the creation of targeted marketing collateral, client events, and company and industry research. Her non-profit experience includes volunteering with the SF Bay Aquarium, New Door Ventures, Kids Included Together, and serving as a big sister in the Big Brothers & Sisters Program. She also participates in PwC's Toastmasters Chapter and Diversity Network. 

 Ain Wilson, Secretary

Board Of Directors

Kai Forsley, Executive Director

Kai joined Foster Youth Rising in 2009 when it was still Friends of the San Francisco Independent Living Skills Program. She became Executive Director in 2017. Kai has mentored foster youth and has several years’ experience working in nonprofit and governmental organizations, most recently with Many Mothers of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

2005- Friends of the San Francisco ILSP is started with an initial generous grant from George and Anne Yamasaki.

2006- With the support of the Pottruck Family and the John Burton Foundation, Friends funds foster youth to attend Black College tours.

2007- United Way of the Bay Area funds Friends of ILSP to provide housing grants to youth transitioning from foster care to independent living situations and college dormitories.

2019 - Friends of ILSP changes name to Foster Youth Rising and begins serving youth all over California. 

2022 - Over $300,000 in total funding awarded to over 280 youth.