Jacqueline Jacobs Caster, President and Founder of the Everychild Foundation
In 2000, Jacqueline Jacobs Caster founded the Everychild Foundation, which she has headed since its formation on a completely volunteer basis. The grant making organization’s mission is to ease suffering of Los Angeles-area children, whether due to disease, disability, abuse, neglect or poverty.
The group is comprised of over 200 Los Angeles women who each contribute $5,000 annually. The dollars are pooled, and the organization makes a single $1 million grant in the community each year f to fund a new innovative project serving a critical unmet need of local children.*
Jacqueline is personally engaged in juvenile justice reform work and is a member of the Los Angeles County Probation Commission which monitors juvenile incarceration facilities.
She was also integrally involved in convincing Los Angeles County officials to adopt the Missouri Model approach of restorative juvenile justice and helped persuade the Los Angeles Police Department to launch a new youth diversion program. It provides a fresh start for eligible youth offenders in lieu of adjudication if they participate in a therapeutic program and victim-offender mediation. As a result, the program has now also been implemented in numerous other municipal and school district police departments throughout the County.
Jacqueline earned her B.A. from Pomona College, her Masters in City and Regional Planning from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and her J.D. from Boston University School of Law. After practicing real estate law with Loeb and Loeb in Los Angeles in the mid-80s, she moved into the field of urban redevelopment, spending several years with Disney Development Company. She later headed her own consulting firm for over a decade performing economic feasibility studies for clients including Fortune 500 companies, municipalities and cultural institutions.
She currently serves on the board of The Campaign for Youth Justice in Washington, D.C., as well as on the Advisory Boards of Safe Place for Youth, The Blue Heron Foundation, The Westside Food Bank, Team Prime Time and The Women’s Foundation in the United Kingdom.
Jacqueline has received numerous recognitions for her work, including being named 2017 Woman of the Year for California’s 26th State Senatorial District by Senator Ben Allen. She also received the inaugural Sister Janet Harris Award from Loyola Law School for her juvenile justice advocacy, the Momentum Award from the Women’s Foundation of California, as well as the Nancy M. Daly Advocacy Award from the National Child Labor Committee, the Nancy M. Daly Founder’s Award from United Friends of the Children for her commitment to children’s causes and the Silver Shingle Award from Boston University School of Law for her service to the community.
She and her husband, Andrew, are the proud parents of two adult children.
* Everychild Foundation’s goal is to sponsor projects which are innovative new prototypes that will inspire replication, thereby leveraging the donations. There are no galas or other fundraising events. Everychild has a roughly 95% member retention rate year after year. Every woman has an equal vote in the final grant selection.
In 19 years, the group, to date, has granted over $17 million, directly served over a million children and is poised to soon award another $1 million this year, and will begin awarding an additional annual “consolation” grant to the runner-up agency during the final grant selection. Accordingly, the annual required member contribution amount has just been raised to $6,000.
Expenses are kept to a minimum as the organization pays no salaries and has no rent, and all grants are carefully monitored in order to provide donors with the satisfaction of knowing what their dollars are accomplishing. The model was created for busy women to give back in a meaningful way, maximizing the impact of their contributions and utilizing their intellect and professional skills without a large time commitment.
Everychild has inspired the creation of at least thirty other new similar foundations – two as far away as London. Ten years ago, in addition to grant making, the organization began venturing into legislative advocacy with a focus upon serving youth aging out of foster care, incarcerated minors, homeless youth and public investment in children aged zero to five.
Some examples of projects funded by the Everychild Foundation include an emergency shelter/drop-in center for abused and sexually trafficked youth, a college prep program for low-income teens, a new center at a local law school to train lawyers to advocate for the educational rights of foster youth who are dually involved with the delinquency system and a program at an inner-city health care clinic to eradicate asthma triggers and lead paint risks caused by their slum housing conditions. A number of these projects have already seen replication across California, nationally and even internationally.