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GLIDE Foundation

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How Our Work Promotes Love and Forgiveness: 

At GLIDE, we deeply love and accept people for who they are -- for their full selves. The people we serve here in San Francisco have, for so many different reasons and sometimes over multiple generations, been pushed to the social and economic edges of society. Excluded from the care and love we all need to thrive, folks in our community manifest and internalize this exclusion in poverty, low self-worth, addiction, and self-medication.

We start by meeting people where they are. When people are hungry, we feed them -- our Free Meals Program serves over 800,000 meals every year. When people are living with addictions or trauma, we start by stabilizing housing, and then offer a range of support from drop-in groups to a certified 90-day treatment program for alcohol and drug users.

That is just the starting point. When someone is fully loved and accepted, they can then begin to love and accept themselves. People on the margins are implicitly taught to hate themselves, believing that who they are is insufficient or wrong. In our recovery program, addicts come to believe that they can change their lives. In our batterers intervention program, men recognize patterns of violence, take action to undo their patterns, and move towards intimacy. In our health center, our homeless diabetes patients learn to take care of themselves and they experience rates of success that match or exceed those of the general population. For some of us, the act of going to a yoga class, or of taking the orange instead of the orange soda, is a radical act of love, for oneself and for the community that cares about you.

We believe in celebration: the focus on the ordinary beauty, resilience, strength, and joy that is inherent in each person. So instead of primarily paying attention to people's problems or perceived weaknesses, this community calls on people to tell their stories, self-determine their path and identity, and discover their capacity to love and support each other.

We also raise awareness about love and social problems on the state and national levels. Each year GLIDE hosts dozens of visiting delegations from places like Iowa and South Africa, and from organizations like Teach for America and companies like Twitter; we are proud to be seen as a model of social justice and social change. Because as philosopher and activist Cornel West says, "Justice is what love looks like in public."

Check out our core values statement:

Our Core Values emerge from GLIDE as a spiritual movement. They are rooted in empowerment, recovery and personal transformation. Our values inspire and guide our behaviors. They are the ground we stand on.

Radically Inclusive
We welcome everyone. We value our differences. We respect everyone.

Truth Telling
We each tell our story. We each speak our truth. We listen.

Loving and Hopeful
We are all in recovery. We are a healing community. We love unconditionally.

For the People
We break through barriers. We serve each other. We change the world.

We sing. We dance. We laugh together. We celebrate life!

Organizational Profile/Synopsis: 

GLIDE strives to create a healthy community by offering services that foster transformation in an environment characterized by unconditional acceptance and non-judgment. Our mission is to create a radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization. GLIDE's community programs were founded by Rev. Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani, and are currently led by Foundation Co-Executive Directors Rita Shimmin and Kristen Growney Yamamoto, and by the Pastor of GLIDE Church, Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto.

Since 1969, when community members first came together to serve free dinners to those in need of a meal, GLIDE has become one of San Francisco's most comprehensive providers of health and human services for the poor and marginalized. As businessman and philanthropist Warren Buffett describes, "[Founders] Cecil and Janice took a dying church and turned it into one of the most important social institutions I've seen in this country."

GLIDE is located in the heart of San Francisco in the Tenderloin neighborhood. This bustling, culturally rich area is where homeless and socially marginalized residents of the city are highly concentrated. We provide a range of services for individuals and families who are most in need, including shelter reservations, rental assistance, emergency food and clothing, daily free meals, integrated primary care, mental health and substance abuse recovery services, needle exchange, HIV services, childcare and youth programming, parenting classes, violence abatement for men, and domestic violence intervention for women. We collaborate with many community partners including the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Health West), The Gap, Wells Fargo, and The San Francisco Department of Public Health.

GLIDE was one of the first organizations to pioneer the then-new idea of permanent supportive housing in San Francisco, and we currently have 189 units of housing for low-income adults and families in need. GLIDE gets more people into shelter beds each night than any other reservation site in the city. Our recovery treatment program has recently won several awards and our Health Services Practice Director Patricia Dennehy won the 2012 Irvine Leadership Award for her innovative work demonstrating how a nurse-managed health center can deliver high-quality and cost-effective care to a low-income population.

Part of GLIDE's story has been published in February 2013 by Harper Collins in the book Beyond The Possible. It is written by our Founders Rev. Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani, with a forward by Dave Eggers. More information about the book is available at


Our current goals have been framed by our 2008 Strategic Pillars, which describe what we want to look like over the next 5-10 years.

1. Transform the Lives of Poor and Marginalized People -- Poor and marginalized community members served by GLIDE experience dramatic improvements in their quality of life in the areas of self-esteem, self-efficacy, social support, improved health outcomes, stabilized housing, and job readiness. A focus on early prevention and intervention with those at risk or previously incarcerated sets them on the path to self-determination and socioeconomic liberation.

2. Ignite Community Power and Drive Systems Change -- GLIDE leads and supports actions that drive changes in policy, services and funding to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization. Many Glide staff are social justice leaders, both locally and globally.

3. Foster a Model Beloved Community -- Among staff and with all our partners we build strong relationships that can withstand the challenges of radical difference. We acknowledge our particular micro-communities and also understand we are part of a macro-community that works for the inclusion and respect of all people.

In 2013-2015, we expect to focus our work primarily on three areas:


Wellness at GLIDE is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. GLIDE will continue to augment our diverse platform of wellness services.

- In our Wellness Center, which opened in March 2012, we will be seeking funding to complete our already substantial programming designed to complement patients' self-maintenance of chronic illnesses, recovery, and mental health conditions through acupuncture, tai chi, smoking cessation groups, Zumba, Sit-and-Be-Fit, yoga, and meditation.

- Wellness programming in the After-school and Summer Youth Programs will focus on providing information about food and nutrition to program participants, modeling healthy eating through the provision of healthy meals and snacks, garden programming and farmer's market visits, and supporting and encouraging children to make healthy choices in their daily eating.


While all organizations are constantly adapting to change, GLIDE is in an active process of addressing two major impending shifts with the ability to transform our operations:

- Founder transition: GLIDE has had Rev. Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani in leadership since the 1960s, and the organization has been gradually introducing new leadership and operational structures to prepare for their eventual departure. Over the past 10 years, we have moved both strategic and operational oversight under a team-based leadership model that includes our Co-Executive Directors, the Pastor of GLIDE Church, and the Founders. In 2013-15, we will transfer a substantial set of fundraising relationships and responsibilities to our Fund Development Team, as well as continue to diversify our revenue streams to ensure sustainability over the long term.

- Healthcare changes under ACA: the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (a.k.a. "Obamacare") is likely to change the landscape of healthcare including the way that community clinics like GLIDE Health Services operate and are funded. Along with our partners, the University of California at San Francisco and Dignity Health, we are currently engaged in strategic scenario planning and forecasting. Our goal is to ensure that the most vulnerable populations served by GLIDE, including our homeless and mentally ill patients, can continue to receive high-quality, culturally relevant care under the new guidelines.


The challenge of reintegrating formerly incarcerated individuals into society touches the center of our belief in second chances for all people. In 2013-15, GLIDE is transforming its current Monitor/Ambassador team into a workforce development program founded in the non-violent principles of our existing Men in Progress program. Men in Progress works with people to acknowledge and stop their violence -- physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual -- and to foster true intimacy. We expect to expand beyond our current workforce partnerships into additional collaborations with jail and prison systems as well as with San Francisco’s Adult Probation Department to create a path of hope, work, and self-efficacy for people currently enmeshed in the criminal justice system.

GLIDE has partnered with San Francisco's poor and/or homeless residents for over 50 years. We have always aimed to match our work to the needs of the community. This year we are responding to the impact of the national recession and continuing inequity in access to resources. Here is data from a few of the many programs we run as part of our holistic, wraparound support. In the fiscal year 2011-2012, GLIDE: - Served 835,036 nutritionally balanced meals -- we are the only organization in the city providing food security for families and individuals for three meals a day, seven days a week. - Offered domestic violence education and support to 396 poor and/or socially marginalized women through our drop-in support groups, Moving Beyond Survival program, Healing through Negro Spirituals workshops, and Therapeutic Socializing sessions. - Supported 205 families (648 individuals) with 2,420 hours of licensed subsidized childcare and after-school programming in addition to mentoring support, parent education, case management, and nutrition classes. - Delivered healthcare to more than 2,955 people including over 16,000 visits to our primary care, behavioral health care, alcohol and drug recovery, and HIV prevention and testing programs. - Distributed 1,300 bags of toys and 5,000 bags of groceries during our holiday programs. - Provided 208 hours of training for each facilitator in our batterers intervention program, which works with 30-50 men each week to end violence in their own lives and the lives of their families.
The basis of the work at GLIDE is a promise: Whoever you are, wherever you have come from, whatever your social or demographic status, you are welcome here. When we asked the community members about their relationship to this place, they told us that: - 81% can be open about all parts of themselves at GLIDE - 76% feel GLIDE staff are happy when they see them - 93% feel GLIDE staff treat them with respect - 81% have more hope for their future as a result of GLIDE
At GLIDE, we believe that people who feel welcome and experience a sense of hope for themselves are then empowered to make significant improvements in their lives. We know that current research repeatedly documents that patients who do not feel safe discussing sensitive aspects of their lives (e.g. being LGBT, experiencing domestic violence, cultural difference, etc.) with their healthcare providers experience substantial health disparities. This "radical acceptance", one of our core values, is the beginning of a partnership with people to bring hope, self-forgiveness, and the motivation for growth into the lives of people whom society has often forgotten or neglected. Our program participants are better able to get the support they need to manage a chronic illness or maintain stable employment. They are then able to focus on essential issues such as literacy, social support, nutrition, and mental health. For example, 97% of families involved with our Family, Youth, and Childcare Center have a better understanding about their child's literacy development, and 62% have met other parents whom they can call for support.
GLIDE's history of supporting people on the margins in our community has led San Francisco and the nation for 50 years. Our earliest work with runaway youth on the streets of the city led to helping found Vanguard, one of the first LGBT youth support groups, in 1966. In the 1980s GLIDE pioneered culturally relevant responses to the epidemic of crack cocaine in the US, leading to the Facts on Crack recovery program and three national conferences hosted at GLIDE addressing crack cocaine in the African-American community. We've been helping thousands of people from all walks of life since 1963, bringing practical resources, a loving welcome, and support for change. If you've seen Will Smith's film, The Pursuit of Happyness, then you've seen us. The real-life Chris Gardner, played by Will Smith, got on his feet as a homeless, single parent stockbroker with our help in the 1980s, and we are featured prominently in the film, which was shot on location at GLIDE with our own clients working as paid actors. We are part of both the history and the future of San Francisco, creating a more accepting and loving community for all people, right now.
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