The Foundation


OUR MISSION is to provide support that enhances life skills and education to local foster youth.

Each year over 1,400 youth in San Joaquin County are placed in protective care, also known as foster care, due to neglect, abuse or abandonment. The Mary Graham Children’s Foundation is a private non-profit 501 (c)3 organization formed by concerned individuals to support local foster youth, picking up where other systems of support leave off.

Our foster youth start off their childhood with difficulties no child should have to face, and unfortunately, their transition into adulthood can be just as difficult. On their 18th birthday, our Foster Youth are processed out of the foster care system, and are largely on their own in the world…with minimal financial support, no parents to fall back on, and limited education and job skills. Your support through the Foundation makes a life-changing difference in these children’s ability to successfully transition out of care and into life on their own.

The Foundation’s fundraising efforts are dedicated to supplementing County funds to increase the educational and enrichment programs that directly benefit the children at the Shelter and to provide trade school and college scholarship opportunities for foster youth who have graduated from high school.

Please join us and invest in these youth’s futures! Your donation changes lives!
Tax ID number 94-3377000

Historic Dates

2000 – Foundation was established to raise funds to replace the old brick shelter with a new state of the art facility.

2003 – The new shelter was completed and funding was reallocated to provide enrichment funds for children while at the shelter and to the trade school & college scholarship fund. Art therapy classes were started and four scholarships were awarded to support promising youth.

2008 – The first art auction was held showcasing art pieces created by residents of Mary Graham Children’s Shelter.

2016 – The Foundation provided scholarships for 36 former foster youth to attend trade schools, community colleges, and 4-year universities.  


With your support over $1 million dollars in scholarships have been awarded to help local foster youth since our inception. 


to make a difference


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as a role model


The driving force behind the Mary Graham Children’s Foundation (MGCF) inception was the need for suitable housing for children removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment.

In 2000 a group of local business people, health care professionals, educators and other caring adults rallied with the community and the Human Service Agency to replace the crumbling dormitory buildings that provided shelter to children in foster care. Funds were also raised to build a child advocacy center where victims of abuse are interviewed discreetly and with sensitivity. The JD Kortzeborn Child Advocacy Center, named after a local pediatrician and child advocate, was also built on the shelter’s grounds to provide medical care for foster children.

Upon completion of the new Shelter the Foundation Board recognized an alarming void in the continuum of care for foster children. Once these children reached adulthood, there was no provision for continued education and support for their transition into adulthood. Without guidance and financial support systems, the odds of these youth becoming successful, self-sufficient adults were low. Statistics show that about 3% of former foster children will graduate from college. Even more disheartening 37% will not even graduate from high school, nearly 40% will rely on public assistance as adults, 25% are part of the nation’s homeless population.

The Foundation rose to the challenge and started the Trade School & College Scholarship Program in 2003. In the first year four students enrolled at trade schools, community colleges, and universities. Over 25% of the students we have supported have since graduated and have begun their careers – this is over eight times the national average!

Concurrent with these efforts, the Foundation began providing enrichment funds for the benefit of children placed in the protective care of the Shelter. While government funds cover the basic living expenses-food, shelter, clothing-there are no funds for the “extras” that enrich childhood-birthday parties, holiday gifts, outings to the movies and ball games, prom dresses and tuxedos, etc. The Foundation is committed to cover these expenses and has supported the County’s mission to provide a safe, nurturing environment for these children while they begin their healing process.

In addition to financial support, the Foundation has established a mentoring program for the scholarship recipients. Community volunteers from a variety of backgrounds including physicians, educators, business people and other caring adults have joined forces to lend a helping hand, open ears, and sometimes, a shoulder to cry on, providing students support to navigate through this transitional period in their lives.

Enrichment Program


The Foundation provides funds for enrichment programs benefiting children during their stay in protective care at the Shelter. Specific programs are provided to develop life skills and self confidence. While government funds cover basic living expenses-food, shelter, clothing- there are no funding streams for the “extras” that fill their emotional and developmental needs. Examples of programs and items we have funded:

  • Art Classes
  • Music Lessons
  • Cooking Classes
  • Duffel bags
  • Birthday Parties
  • Holiday Parties
  • Outings to movies, and sporting events
  • Prom dresses and tuxedos
  • Educational field trips
  • And much more

All of the above go a long way to strengthen these children’s self esteem, identify new interests and skills and improve their overall emotional well being.

Board of Directors

President RANDY BURNS Waterloo-Morada Fire District
Vice President MELANIE VIEUX WMB Architects
Treasurer SUSAN LENZ Iacopi, Lenz & Company
Member RYAN BIEDERMANN  San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department
  KERRY HECKMAN-BOKIDES Business Owner/Educator
  ROBYN F. CHESHIRE  Visit Stockton
  MICHAEL DUFFY Financial Center Credit Union
  DIANNE GINI Collins Electric
  VALENCIA JONES Nationwide Insurance
  CLAUDIA PRUETT Community Volunteer
  ALEXIS STEVENS, ESQ. Somach Simmons & Dunn
  DR. EARL TAYLOR Physician
  JOHN VERA Human Services Agency, Retired 
  DOUGLASS W. WILHOIT, JR. Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce
  MARK YOST  San Joaquin County Office of Education