WISEPlace received $36,000 to triple their capacity to transform the lives of unaccompanied homeless women – finding 30% of the architectural fees and construction documents.

Description of how the funds will be used: 

WISEPlace, in Santa Ana, has launched a capital project, Orange County Women’s Center, to triple their capacity to transform the lives of unaccompanied homeless women. Pre-Launch & Phase One of this project includes Planning and Design estimated at $376,395.  Two components of this phase are the architectural fees and construction documents totaling $136,450.  This grant will be used to fund approximately 30% of this critical component scheduled for completion in the next 3-6 months.

Description of Project/Program, what makes it compelling, and the specific needs it will address:

The purpose of this project is to reconfigure and renovate the existing 1950s gymnasium from one floor to two and add 30 permanent supportive housing units, each with a private bathroom and kitchenette.  Current transitional housing and public spaces (kitchen, dining, computer lab) will be renovated as well as the administrative wing to provide 30 emergency beds and 26 transitional housing units.

Describe the Organization or Project as it pertains to the following Impact Giving Grant Standards-

High Impact & Life Transforming:

The new facility will serve even more women by adding 30 permanent housing units and 30 emergency shelter beds.  They will be able to transform the lives of more than 300 women, a three-fold increase in their annual impact. Statistically, among the homeless population, 1 in 4 are unaccompanied women.  WISEPlace is the ONLY OC solution for unaccompanied women specifically.


The current Steps to Independence program educates each WISEPlace resident in life skills, provides counseling to help address behaviors and habits that contribute to a homeless state, provides job readiness training, resume writing and interview skills, and financial empowerment curriculum to educate on budgets, healthy credit, and how to save.


Sustainability is illustrated through a 30-year history of serving unaccompanied homeless women, a diversified, strong network of community support and funding sources, and a seasoned, talented executive director and board of directors.

Community Building:

They are partnering with the City of Santa Ana Housing Division and collaborating with Housing & Neighborhood Development, Affordable Housing Access and City Leadership. The current capital campaign is co-chaired by Loretta Sanchez and Eileen Padberg, in addition to a variety of support and funding sources from individuals, corporations, foundations, and fundraising events.


WISEPlace is one of the first non-profits in OC to recognize the issue of homeless women and address their unique needs.  This project is an innovative plan that creatively reconfigures their current space in a cost-effective way.  This is a new approach for them as they respond to a very real local need, expanding crucial services in a gender-specific, trauma-informed manner.


Success of the Capital Campaign will be measured by a timeline with fundraising goals.  The initial benchmark is to raise $500,000 by summer 2018 and $3.5M by the end of 2018.  They hope to break ground in Fall 2019, with a $5M goal met by Spring 2019.

Organization’s Mission Statement:

WISEPlace (Women Inspired, Supported and Empowered). Our mission is to transform the lives of unaccompanied women, by providing programs and services to move them from homeless to housed and independent. Since our inception in 1924 as the South Orange County YWCA, WISEPlace has been committed to providing care and empowerment to women, children and families.  Celebrating 30 years of service in 2017, we have been instrumental in raising the visibility of this issue and the unique challenges of homeless women in our community.