Mission Statement

To provide teens aging out of the foster care system with all of the resources and support of an intact family. To allow the greatest opportunity for a successful transition to adulthood.

The transition from adolescence to adulthood is a difficult transition, even with an intact family structure.  Recent studies have shown that the average young person must rely on parental support during this transitional period, and do not actually become self-sufficient until age 26.  By contrast, youth exiting the foster care systems do not have this option; they are cut off from their sole support system at age 18.

Where most teens are entering this time of their life with a sense of awe and opportunity, foster kids are left in a state of desperation.  Without a home to return to, they often sleep on couches, in cars or turn themselves in to the local homeless shelter.  For these kids the future is bleak.

Our College Home

Free room and board and full college support. Every room was created with love and care because where you live and how you live speaks directly to how you feel about yourself.

Our Venice Beach PAD Drop in Center

Serving the large population of homeless youth in the Los Angeles area.

We provide clothing, food and several resources, but the main goal is to get our kids to safe shelter. The PAD (Protection and Direction) Drop in center is the "hub" to the 17,000 housing resources we refer to all over the United States. Each youth is assessed and goals set to return to family or locate a suitable housing alternative to meet their needs and get them back on track.


Youth can text SHELTER and their ZIP code (SHELTER 90210) to the phone number 99000 from anywhere in the nation and receive a response with a local shelter


Each week our volunteers hit the street each week to locate our kids. We provide food, transportation and housing resources to bring our kids home.

National Leader in volunteerism & community

We need your help!

We are completely supported by private donations from individuals and foundations that care about our kids. The only barrier to help more kids is donations.

We are so grateful for everyone who has ever extended their hand to help us to bring our kids home. Without you, we wouldn't be able to help more youth each day.We receive no federal or state funding.

We have only one full time employee and over 400 volunteers. Our belief is that donations for a non profit should go to direct services for the people you serve and administration costs should be at a bare minimum. We are parents and concerned community members that are taking a stand for our kids.

Jordin had been homeless for three years on and off after foster care. When we met her in February of 2012, she was sleeping on the sidewalk in a Venice storefront.

Jordin is now living in our home and attending Marinello Beauty School full time and has a part time paid internship at a salon. Jordin insists on going back to Venice regularly to cut the hair of the homeless youth visiting the PAD.


Ashley was floor surfing when she contacted us. Homeles after foster care, she went from one friend's to another desperately trying to avoid the inevitable. She spent four months at Lauri's personal home while our college home was being built by the community.

Ashley is now a CNC Engineer and works full time at a medical device manufacturing firm. She left our home with $4200 from our savings program, a car from our automobile matching program and a $1,000 donation from a caring donor to purchase all new bedroom furniture.

The children below are waiting for safe homes. With your help, we can continue to revive dreams!

We need your help!

Find out how you can help more of America's throw away kids to gain housing, an education an a life sustaining career on our DONATE PAGE!


We are a volunteer centric organization. We have one full time employee paid by a direct grant. We have a team of over 60 committed volunteers working with us on a regular basis to provide the support and services for our youth. Our team consists of business owners, executives, system kids and caring community members.

The number of homeless emancipated foster youth in the United States is a growing epidemic that must be treated aggressively. To adress the magnitude of the problem, THE TEEN PROJECT has many components, Sober College Housing, The PAD Database, Teen Project Shelter Collaboration, The Meeting Places Program, The TEXT Shelter service and the National Mentoring Program. THE TEEN PROJECT protocol seeks to address the issue on all levels.  There are 25,000 teens exiting the system each year to homelessness. We are a parent to the parentless, bringing them home.

Foster ends at 18. Foster care services end abruptly and these kids are forced to leave the only home they know. Most do not have a plan or a place to live. Truth of the matter is that anyone being put on the street without money, shelter or a job would have a rough time, but because of their age and mental state these kids lack knowledge necessary to rebound from this tragedy. 

In most cases they leave foster care with little or no sustainable life-plan, and without the ability to reenter care. The foster parents are not obligated to prepare them and due to legal issues and deep budget cuts, their social workers are limited to what they can provide and must cut contact when they leave.

Their chances are slim. They end up couch hopping with friends. In the long run, lacking parental support or guidance, the result is reliance on reactive services - homeless shelters, jails and the welfare system.  

The Teen Project picks up where the laws fall short, giving these kids a chance at life. We believe taking them from their abusive parents, telling them they are "safe" now in foster care and dumping them on the street at an age where most young adults are about to begin the most exciting journey of their life, is double dipping on the abuse.

We need to make it right for America's most vulnerable children.

Our Team

Lauri Burns is our Founder and serves on our Executive Board.  Lauri grew up in the Juvenile Dependency System where she was a probation youth and ward of the court.  Lauri turned her life around five years after emancipation and was determined to make a change for other system youth.  Lauri has been taking in "At Risk Youth" for 25 years. Lauri owns a computer consuling firm and works full time at a Fortune 100 defense company. Lauri is the Author of Punished for Purpose and donates 75% of her book proceeds to The Teen Project. She is a sought after inspirational speaker. Lauri is instrumental in our our day to day operations with grant writing, fundraising and program operations. Lauri oversees the employees and the volunteers that support our organization. She is also active in the day to day lives of all of our kids. Still today Lauri has four prior homeless youth living in her home and a foster child. She is a monthly donor for The Teen Project and the mom that all of the kids depend on.


Jane Dawson serves on our Executive Board. Jane is an Addiction Specialist with a BA in Psychology and Social Behavior, Jane has extensive experience with non profits. Jane served as a chair person for 44 Women as well as Hope's House supporting victims of domestic violence. Jane is a social networking, media expert with many years of fundraising experience.





Cari Cohn-Morros serves on our Executive Board.  Cari is a Sr. Attorney at the Department of Health & Human Services. Cari's has been serving to support The Teen Project since 2010 and decided to take on a greater commitment in 2011 by helping to shape and serve as we take on even more children and assist other grass root projects throughout the US.






Ken Burgess serves on the Executive Board and the Building Team that expanded and remodeled our Teen Project home in Lake Forest, CA.  Ken is a regular at our home where our youth often refer to him as "Uncle Ken".Ken is the owner of KB Landscaping in Orange County which has been in business for over 25 years and was instrumental in the design and implementation of our tranquil Teen Project landscape..




Caprice Gray serves on our Executive Board and is the owner of Grey Store in Los Angeles, California. Caprice is a make-up artist and stylist for Hollywood's best. She is instrumental with The Teen Project publicity and fundraising activities, as well as the day to day decisions with the girl's home. Being a mother of a young woman, Caprice is committed to the success of our girls and the creation of the programs that support them.





David Bernardi has been a Teen Project volunteer since 2008.  David utilizes his in-depth knowledge of social networking to assist our team in areas of with web presence, social media, and volunteer outreach.  David is a former Operations Analyst at State Street Global Services. David first learned about The Teen Project while participating in the State Street Grant Making program and was instrumental in obtaining the grant to build the roof on our new home. 

David is an MBA Candidate in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.



Bob Gast serves on our Advisory Board.  Bob works with our team to develop relationships with local businesses to obtain products and services at reduced costs with an eye at channeling donations to direct services for our youth. Bob also volunteers his time on our event committee and assist with trademark matters. Bob is the Executive Vice President Manufacturing, Research & Development for Hampton Products.  In addition to his regular duties at Hampton, Bob oversees legal and intellectual property matters.  Since 2006, Bob is a member of the Hampton Cares (philanthropy) committee. Bob represented Hampton Products during the September 2009 “Wall Raising” of our home.  Bob and his wife Kathy became personally involved in supporting The Teen Project shortly thereafter and continue to support us with donations, volunteerism and internships for our youth.


Gary Sladek serves on our Management Team.  Gary is instrumental in assisting our youth with the Automobile Purchase Program from inception to handing over the keys. Gary is an integral part of our building team and partipates in the lives of our youth as a strong father figure. Gary’s career path includes 32 years in the high tech manufacturing field and co-owner of MTS/Haas Factory Outlet in Anaheim California that supplies American made CNC machines to the metal working industry.  Gary is also a Volunteer Director for Saddleback Church's Support Group Ministries. Gary dedicates his life to helping others, as he feels that everyone deserves a second chance.  Gary was instrumental in working with our first college graduate to obtain a career in the field of manufacturing.


Sarah May Bates brings The Teen Project story to life through her compelling Ads.  Sarah is an advertising copywriter, designer, and volunteer career counselor for the Teen Project. She also handles design for the Teen Project on the business side, assisting with web, corporate ID, and press collateral.

Sarah is an LA native, Yoga instructor and aspiring Master Chef.  Sarah attended an event where Lauri spoke in 2006 and has been a part of The Teen Project ever since.



Amy Bawden volunteers on our Grant Writing and Financial Support Teams.  Amy retired after a long and fulfilling career of 18 years at The Walt Disney Company.  During her years with Disney, Amy was the Vice President of Finance and Vice President of Production Services.  Amy has a  B.S. in Business Admin, Finance from SDSU and belongs to the American Assoc. of Grant Professionals.  Amy heard Lauri speak at a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) event, read her book and she was hooked.  Amy continues to work with foster youth as a CASA.



Dr. Siri Smith serves on our Volunteer Team and helps our girls to release tension and stress on a regular basis. In addition to her visits to our home to adjust our youth, Dr. Siri goes above and beyond to make herself available when are young ladies require assistance.

Dr. Siri is a family chiropractor with offices in Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita. Dr. Siri has been a chiropractor since 1982.  She spent 20 years practicing in New York City before moving to Southern California in 2002. She has experience with all ages and conditions, providing pain relief and teaching wellness care. She has a gentle, yet highly effective approach that distinguishes her from others. You may reach her at 949-350-7350 or drsiri@cox.net. You may also visit drsiri.com.


Carol Nickens serves on our Volunteer Team.  Carol is an American Sign Language Instructor, Author, Interpreter and an active volunteer in the following organizations: CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for Foster Youth, Emergency Response Team Member, Fight against Child Trafficking, Orphan Care initiatives, Women, & Deaf ministries volunteer.





Cindy Couyoumjian was Lauri’s mentor and guide when she began to turn her life around as an emancipated youth in 1988.  After reading Lauri’s book and realizing the tremendous impact she had on Lauri, she became a volunteer mentor to educate our youth on budgeting and investing.  Cindy is a Certified Financial Planner and has been practicing for 25 years.  Cindy’s passion for her career comes from her ability to assist her clients in achieving their financial goals, retire comfortably, and ultimately pass on a legacy to their loved ones.  Cindy holds the following licenses, Series 6, 63, 65, 7, 22, 24, 26 and her California Insurance License (#0719038).


Marissa Taylor is an active volunteer at The Teen Project home where she tends to the grounds and garden on a regular basis.  She is a stay at home mom for last 15 years and is very active with the Boxer Rescue LA.  Marissa fosters dogs in her home and is also an Auxiliary Board Member for Kinship Non-profit Adoption Center. Over the past few years: she has served on the PTA executive board member and chairperson for multiple committees, soccer coach, cub scout leader.



Linda Morgan is the Co-Founder of The Teen Project.  Linda's passion is to help children in need by providing a safe and loving home. Linda has worked in the real estate industry for over 15 years. She holds an active real estate license at OC Signature Properties in the city of Orange.