USF Entrepreneur Reconceptualizes Housing For Transition-Aged Foster Youth

Kevin Clark ’15 launches real estate fund to end the foster youth to homelessness pipeline

by Sara Rinaldi, Office of Development Communications

Kevin Clark ’15 is a former foster youth. He spent 12 years in the Los Angeles foster care system and became part of the child care welfare system at the age of four.

He's now launching a real estate investment fund, modeled after typical affordable housing funds, that will invest in housing for transition-aged foster youth, ages 18-24, in the Los Angeles County region.

More than a Moral Obligation

In California, 25 percent of former foster youth experience homelessness during transition ages, and an additional 28 percent have reported that they have couch-surfed. Of the total homeless population in L.A. County, 35 percent of adults report to have experienced foster care or juvenile probation at some point in their life.

“When I turned 19, I had no support system. I either had to live on the streets or create a foundation somehow,” said Clark.

Clark believes he has more than a moral obligation to help foster youth — there is a real and unique opportunity from a business perspective. He identified that while there are resources to support rentals for foster youths, there is no structural way to access that housing.

That’s where a collaboration between Good River Partners – a social impact startup that Clark has helped launch – and one of the nation’s leading affordable housing developers is helping to end the foster care-to-homelessness pipeline. Together, they are launching a private equity real estate investment fund to acquire and develop housing for the transition-aged youth population.

A Jesuit Mentality

Clark attended boarding school for troubled youth, which provided structure, and ultimately helped him get to community college and the University of San Francisco. It was at USF, where Clark witnessed Jesuit priests, Father Gerdenio (Sonny) Manuel, S.J. and former USF President, Rev. Stephen A. Privett, S.J. challenge the status quo and face difficult questions.  

He didn’t know it then, but he was learning by observing people who had dedicated their careers to serving others.

“I saw how the Jesuits were doing that work and really supporting the education of young adults and providing therapy and behavioral services,” said Clark. “I would not have as profound of a calling if I wasn’t educated in this way.”

Now, as a social impact entrepreneur working at a startup, Clark wears multiple hats. Some days, he runs around educating people on a legislation bill, and others, he asks board members to step in as an equity partner.

“The work is difficult. We are looking to play in a capitalist space and to change the energy of money,” said Clark. “We have to consider private dollars in the public space while elevating the mission. It’s hard to change perspectives. It’s not easy to pitch to a private equity fund manager, whose only focus is the biggest revenue, and say we are going to generate a return while also creating impact.”

Though the work is challenging, Clark is grateful to be given the opportunity to reconceptualize transition-aged foster youth housing.

He’s glad that he followed his passion, and to others looking to follow theirs, he said, “passion is going to be more inspiring and driving than the economic opportunity. That’s going to drive you and keep you accountable to do something really good.”

Clark's work exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit that is a new university-wide priority.

Senior Director of Principal Gifts, Diana Johnston MBA '23 said, "Kevin Clark's initiative embodies the entrepreneurial drive and commitment to innovation that is central to the university. With USF’s new Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative, we have the opportunity to support entrepreneurship students to make a transformative social impact."

At USF, all students are encouraged to lean into innovation and entrepreneurship, and with the Bay Area as its backdrop, the university is poised to be a new center for entrepreneurship and innovation.

Learn more about how you can support the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative at USF.