Empowering teens and young adults experiencing foster care through mentoring, life skills, housing navigation, transportation, and financial support.
To impact our community one youth at a time by meeting their tangible needs as we connect with them through meaningful relationships.
“I just wanted to take the time to thank you for your understanding…
…and for paying for me to have my [dental] crown done. This has helped me in a huge way especially for being a full time college student and a mother of two children so once again thank you so much.”
board of directors
Tamalani M. Barnett, Esq., CWLS
Executive Director & Co-Founder
Dawn Groom, LVN
Mentor Program Coordinator & Co-Founder
Christopher R. Clark
Youth Development Specialist
& Former Foster Youth
Chief Marketing Officer
Pleasant Valley School District Board of Education
Tamalani Barnett and Dawn Groom, RaisingHOPE’s Co-Founders, like to say that RaisingHOPE started out backward. They never meant to start an organization. After all, usually you establish the organization, then you create an event!
In 2013, Tami was working as a children’s attorney in Los Angeles and was trying to figure out a way to get involved in her own backyard with the children of Ventura County. She got connected with Dawn, a relative caregiver for her niece, and the two quickly became partners in the cause. They simply had the idea of putting together an “awareness walk.”
“I expected we’d have a hundred people and have matching T-shirts and do a little bit of awareness and that would be it,” Tami recalled.
The first HOPE4Kids race, featuring only a 5K, was held at California Lutheran University’s Kingsmen Park with 400 runners and 50 vendors, raising $11,500 to benefit children in foster care. It was also the site of the first Foster Gallery sanctioned by Ventura County.
During the first two years, HOPE4Kids had raised its funds through one of its sponsors, and that was beginning to get a bit cumbersome. As planning for the 2015 event began, the organization decided to incorporate into its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It was necessary that the new entity not be called “HOPE4Kids” because that name was already taken by another California nonprofit group. The Run & Festival, however, continues to be known as HOPE4Kids (and, frankly, many people still think of the overall organization by that name).
A Board of Directors was created and it soon decided it didn’t want the organization to be known just by one event. It wanted to find programs that tended to needs of foster children that were not being met elsewhere.
The organization gives funding to provide for the benefit of dependent or recently emancipated youth to pay for things not covered by any other means. Recent funding examples have covered things such as dentistry, college textbooks, car repair and paying to restart electricity in an apartment.
RaisingHOPE’s Celebrate Families dinner is an annual event that honors families who have reunified and also gives appreciation to their social workers.
Another way RaisingHOPE helps families in the child welfare system is through advocacy. High-quality representation can literally make the difference between a child being forgotten, neglected or abused, and a child being loved, respected and cared for.
All of this grew and continues to grow out of the original HOPE4Kids event, which still brings a vast amount of awareness to Ventura County and sends the message to children and youth that the community cares about them. It is the one public event in Ventura County that brings together all the foster care agencies and nonprofits in the area into one place.
The Run & Festival was held in 2015-2017 at the Camarillo Community Center. It was moved to Lake Sherwood for the 2018 event.
RaisingHOPE is almost entirely run by a team of about 20 volunteers. HOPE4Kids has approximately 40 volunteers on its planning team and about 250 who volunteer on the day of the event.
“We couldn’t do this work without the support of our amazing and dedicated volunteers,” Tami said.
Through the pillars of funds, mentoring and advocacy, RaisingHOPE continues to motivate and mobilize the community to respond to the needs of children in the child welfare system in Ventura County and in the Conejo and Las Virgenes areas of Los Angeles County.