Saint John's Program for Real Change

Enough is Enough

aka Saint John's Program for Real Change   |   Sacramento, CA   |


At Saint John’s Program for Real Change, it’s our mission to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness, one family at a time. We provide families with the education, supportive services, and employment training needed so they can become productive members of our local community for generations to come.

Notes from the nonprofit

Designed To Change Lives. Once and For All.

We provide more than shelter and food. We provide the means for complete fundamental transformation. The ability to rise above devastating, negative elements and achieve job-readiness and self-sufficiency. Entry into the program is limited, and each chapter is extremely rigorous. But those who see it through end up with successful, happy, and productive lives – for themselves, and for their children.


This is the breaking point. It is acceptance that something, anything, must be done in order to escape the cycle of poverty, abuse, and dependence. No sob stories. No excuses. Just a challenge. Can you take an honest look at your life and your choices and decide that something needs to change once for and for all?


The real test of mettle begins here. Mothers address the root causes of homelessness through our mental health services, earn their GED through our Career Education and Placement Center, and their children are supported emotionally and developmentally through our Children's Program. Mothers also participate in our Employment Training Program at Plates Café and Catering, Plates2go, or First Steps Child Development Center, where they learn the essential skills to become employable and ready to join the workforce. It's an arduous process, because it's hard, honest work. Many don't make it. But those who do – prosper.


This is graduation. Those who make it here are ready for the real world. A real job. Real housing. And a real way to support a family. It's new territory for many. A stage that marks the end of a routine of hardship and failure. This is looking adversity in the eye and saying “Not this time." Now – real life begins.

Ruling year info



Ms. Julie Hirota

Main address

2443 Fair Oaks Blvd, #369

Sacramento, CA 95825 USA

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Formerly known as

St. John's Shelter for Women and Children

St. John's Shelter Program for Women and Children



NTEE code info

Homeless Services/Centers (P85)

Employment Procurement Assistance and Job Training (J20)

Temporary Shelter For the Homeless (L41)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

A June, 2019 Point-in-time Count reported that homelessness in Sacramento County has increased by 19% over the 2017 count, with 1,905 more people living on the streets, raising the estimated number of homeless people countywide to 5,570. Existing regional shelters cannot accommodate the increased demand and moreover, provide only a 30-day stay. We know from our 34 years of experience that in order to successfully break the cycle of poverty and dependence, once and for all, the root causes in addition to the symptoms of homelessness must be addressed. This takes months, not days. Our clients face several, often co-occurring challenges that are barriers to self-sustainability: 77% struggle with substance abuse, 69% have experienced domestic violence, 52% have a criminal history, 58% struggle with mental illness, and 50% do not have a high school diploma or GED. The average Saint John’s client is 34 years old and has two children. One third (33%) are teen mothers.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Saint Johns Program for Real Change

Without mental stability, holding down a job and supporting a family just isn't possible. Research shows more than half of homeless mothers experience mental health challenges, such as depression and anxiety. And the trauma their children face can potentially spell a lifetime of devastation. Our clinical staff provide individual, group, and family therapy for mothers and their children, crisis intervention, and addiction rehabilitation. Through this process, mothers and children can cast off the heavy toll of mental health issues and make giant strides toward self-sufficiency.

Being a mother comes with a lot of responsibility. And because a majority of clients become mothers in their teens, a lack of support and parenting skills is simply the norm for them. That's why parenting education is at the core of the support we provide. As mothers progress through the program, additional assistance becomes available so they can commit fully to employment readiness. Through housing, transportation, and a comprehensive and coordinated program for children, families are able to enjoy a support structure during their recuperation with the eventual goal of becoming independent.

Our Career Education and Placement Center (CEPC) provides career guidance, employability workshops, High School diploma preparation and attainment, financial coaching, job readiness services, computer literacy courses, and in-house employment training. As a result, women end up more than prepared to embark on the path toward to a successful career.

Over the course of our program, mothers gain between 360-540 hours of on-the-job employment training through our social enterprises - Plates Cafe and Catering, Plates Midtown, and First Steps Child Development Center. By learning responsibility, accountability, work ethic, and teamwork, mothers become ready for gainful employment.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

External assessments

Evaluated via the Impact Genome Project (2018)

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our mission at Saint John's Program for Real Change is to unleash the potential of mothers in crisis, to improve their quality of life and enrich the lives of their families. Saint John's operates the region's largest residential employment training program for women and children who have become homeless and the only one focused exclusively on this rapidly growing segment of the homeless population. Since 1985, we have provided more than 30,000 women and children with essential tools to rise above their circumstances and make REAL change in their lives. Today, with our expansion, we serve approximately 270 women and children each day, translating to 700 women and children annually with 675 service hours monthly for each family.

Women are homeless when they arrive at Saint John's, but they are far from helpless. Before they are accepted into Saint John's Program, each woman has already shown a strong commitment to change, working daily to remain on Saint John's waitlist with the knowledge that our program is designed to support women in taking responsibility for themselves and their children. Our holistic and immersive residential program addresses short-term goals of immediate stabilization, mental, physical, interpersonal and vocational assessment and pre-vocational training; mid-term goals of intensive hands-on employment training, self-development, career exploration, independent housing search, and positive network development; and long-term goals of job acquisition, self-reliance, family sustainability independent living, and community involvement. Sobriety is strictly mandated and women remain accountable to their Case Managers, their families, and themselves throughout their time at Saint John's. Housing and employment training are at the heart of our 18-month program that moves a family towards independence, since stable housing and stable employment are the keys to self-sustainability.

We know from years of experience that to create lasting change, we MUST move beyond a model of temporary shelter to an integrated model of supportive services and proven tools to effectively help families exit this poverty cycle and achieve economic self-sustainability. Our transformative program provides comprehensive services, tailored to rehabilitate and re-assimilate women into the workforce and their community, strengthening their ability to improve and sustain good health, including housing, meals, transportation, reunification support, high school diploma attainment, financial literacy and parenting courses, mental health therapy, and employment training. 96% of our job-training graduates secure a position on a career pathway to a job with higher earnings and benefits. While mothers actively rebuild their lives, children are given care and help to reintegrate into their school community, and our trained and dedicated team works with children to strengthen the family.

Entry into our program is limited, and each step is extremely rigorous, but those who see it through end up with rewarding, happy and productive lives – for themselves, and for their children. Saint John's fills a critical role in our community as the only regional provider with a proven, replicable model that allows homeless families to permanently escape the cycle of poverty and dependence.

Our mission is to unleash the potential of women and children in crisis by breaking the cycle of poverty and dependence, one family at a time. We do this by providing women with all of the necessary tools and opportunities to pursue REAL CHANGE.

• Immediate Stabilization: Housing, Meals, Assessments
• Dedicated Case Management
• Individual and Family Therapy
• Life-Improvement Classes (i.e. Parenting, Budgeting, Positive Thinking, Anger Management)
• Addiction Recovery Counseling
• Employability Classes
• Hands-on Employment Training
• High-School Diploma Attainment
• Quality Full-time Childcare, Kindergarten Transition Services and After-school Enrichment
• Transportation

We deliver a comprehensive continuum of care that supports the whole person from a point of crisis to a point of self-sustainability, focusing on: 1) critical support, housing/meals, case management, mental health therapy and addiction counseling; 2) self-improvement classes, housing preparation workshops, legal services, psycho/social education and domestic violence survivor support; 3) educational programs to increase employability, and to improve school success for children; 4) extensive on-the-job training at our three social enterprises.

Our board members and staff leaders bring unrivaled business acumen to the Saint John's team due to their extensive experience running organizations in varying sectors of the economy. It's an important asset that allows us to run efficiently and effectively – and always with the best interest of our clients in mind. With more than a 35 years of experience serving the homeless community, we know that single-mother-led families experiencing homelessness need much more than to be housed, clothed, and fed. Saint John's provides the opportunity for them to establish self-worth and a sense of readiness to re-enter the workforce.

Saint John's board has approved a three-year Strategic Plan that includes a comprehensive and multi-faceted Fund Development Plan to ensure the continuation of our critical program services. We regularly approach new funders through extensive grant-seeking efforts and valuable community connections. We are fortunate to have the support of public agencies, corporations and foundations including Albertsons Companies Foundation, Allstate Foundation, American River Bank; Ameriprise Financial, California Wellness Foundation; the Charis Family Fund, Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance (SNAP-to-Skills Program), The City of Sacramento, the Governor’s Office of Business Development (GOBiz), the William G. Irwin Foundation, FHLB, In-N-Out Foundation, , Kaiser Foundation, the Kelly Foundation, Kikkoman Foods Foundation, Maximus Foundation, Nationwide Foundation, Point West Rotary Club of Sacramento, Procter and Gamble, Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA), Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society, Soroptimist International of Sacramento, Sacramento Region Emergency Food and Shelter Program, Serving USA, SMUD, Sprouts Foundation, State Street Foundation; Swinerton Foundation, Teichert Foundation; TJX Foundation, Umpqua Bank, Union Bank, Union Pacific; United Auburn Indian Community, US Bank; Wells Fargo Foundation;Women’s Foundation of California; and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.

Additional sustainability funding includes income streams from our three successful social enterprises and vocational training programs, Plates Café and Catering, Plates Midtown and First Steps Child Development Center.

Our established and very successful fundraising events, the annual 'Party for Change' in November and the 'Polo for Change' in June, attract a total of nearly 1600 guests and raise up to $1,000,000 each year for operational support.

Saint John's plays a unique and critical role in the Sacramento region as the only residential program focused on single-mother-led families who have become homeless. Our up-to-18-month residential program provides all the services our clients need to rehabilitate and re-assimilate into the workforce and their community. Saint John’s provides proven tools to effectively help families improve health and safety, function independently, reintegrate into the workforce and achieve economic self-sustainability. 96% of the women who complete our vocational training secure non-subsidized employment at an average wage of $14.50 per month.

We have demonstrated continued success year after year. Key accomplishments include: 1) Launched, self-funded, and maintained viability for three social enterprises training women for jobs with livable wages and upward career paths. 2) Our budget increased from $1 million in 2007 to more than $7 million today, but the public share has dropped from nearly 70% to approximately 29% today; 3) Through diligent implementation of a board-approved Strategic Plan and a comprehensive Fund Development Plan, we have been able to continue providing all of our programs every year; 4) The dedicated support of 450+ volunteers every month, who provide up to 1650 hours in volunteer time each month; 5) In summer 2017, we opened an additional residential facility, increasing our capacity from serving 180 women and children every day to up to 270.

The success of Saint John’s model was recently cited in a year-long study conducted on behalf of the County Supervisors Association of California (CSAC) and the League of California Cities, which held out Saint John’s as a best practice for homeless families. Please see pages 22-23:


Saint John's Program for Real Change

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Saint John's Program for Real Change

Board of directors
as of 6/5/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Phillip Telgenhoff

Allstate Insurance Company

Term: 2014 - 2022

Dave Cloninger

Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.

Kevin Ramos

The Buzz Oates Group of Companies

David Flanagan


Phil Telgenhoff

Allstate Insurance

Ian Cornell

Cornell Group

Edward Manning

KP Public Affairs

Paul Mitchell

VP Political Data Inc

Kevin Peterson

Kaiser Permanente-South Sacramento Service

Minnie Santillan

Santillan & Devlin, LLC

Mark Wiese

Pacific Housing

Michele Wong

CleanWorld, Synergex International Corporation

Kimberlie Hiltachk

Hiltachk Marketing Group

Carolyn Hubbert

Public Consulting Group

Arlene Maloney

Wells Fargo

Brad Simmons

UC Davis Medical Center

Joaquin McPeek


Peter Thompson

Rubicon Partners

Julie Hirota

Saint John's Program for Real Change

Dawn Davison

Laura Hewitt

Erin Cabelera

Kaiser Permanente

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes