Tutoring, music lessons, art supplies, field trips, summer camp, anything a kid needs to be a kid. That's why we're here.

About Us


Why is COS needed?

  • There are approximately 2,500 homeless children living in San Francisco according to the Homeless Education Council.
  • These children are twice as likely as other children to be in poor health. Homeless children have higher rates of asthma, ear infections, stomach problems, and speech problems
  • These children are four times as likely as other children to experience delayed development.
  • School-age homeless children face barriers to enrolling and attending school, including transportation problems, residency requirements, inability to obtain previous school records, and lack of clothing and school supplies (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009)
  • Homeless children are twice as likely to repeat a grade in school, and are significantly more likely not to finish high school. (Institute for Children and Poverty)

When was COS formed?

COS was founded in 1995 by Lois Pavlow and Summer Tompkins Walker in an effort to make a difference in the lives of homeless children, whose needs are often unseen by society. Since then, COS has grown considerably with consistent year-over-year private donor support, significant corporate support and a robust, actively engaged Board of Directors.

How many children does COS serve?

Thousands of the City’s children have been served by COS since inception in 1995.

  • Over 400 children in need are served by COS annually.
  • Over 300 children are served by our Birthday Bunch Program annually.
  • Over 100 children go to summer camp each year because of COS funding. Funding for summer camp started at our inception in 1995.
  • Over 40 children participate in weekly cooking classes along with family members.
  • Over 30 children participate in weekly music lessons.
  • Over 40 children participate in the Drawbridge art therapy program annually.
  • 7 students have been and continue to be supported by the COS College Scholarship Program.
  • 3 students are currently supported for a three-year term by our K-8 Scholarship Grants.
  • 3 students are currently supported for four years of High School support programming.

How does COS work with its partners?

A minimum of two Board members work closely as liaisons with the Children’s Program Director at each shelter to identify needs, establish a budget for the year and to present specific grants to the Board. This hands-on approach allows us to serve a wide array of children’s needs from those of gifted children to those in dire need. It also allows us to connect them into other services they might not know about were it not for COS – for example, tuition assistance at one of our partner schools as well as COS-funded art therapy via their shelter of residence. Our board’s evaluation of individual requests at monthly meetings allows us real-time impact.

What makes COS unique?

  • Low overhead: all donations go directly to COS programming.  All administrative overhead is covered by board member annual contributions.
  • Over 90% of all COS activity is volunteer resourced.
  •  An ability to deliver the “small things” that are often lost in federal and governmental family aid. Being able to continue art therapy, buy a school picture, or cook with family can be grounding during a time of transition.
  • A hands-on approach with each of our partners and a long-term commitment. They know we will be there for them as we have since 1995.
  •  A promise fulfilled to a child. If a parent moves into family housing while the child is being supported by us, we will never pull funding and “penalize” a child for housing stability.

Does COS provide emergency aid to shelters?

No. We are on-going, consistent, support system for children. We work closely with program directors to serve each child as fully and completely as possible.

Can COS accept in-kind donations for the shelters such as furniture and beds?

While we do not have storage facilities for such donations, we would encourage you to check directly with our shelter partners, who may be found here.