Today, there are nearly 200,000 nonprofit organizations in California but just a fraction of them have been around for more than a few decades. Felton Institute is different. Today, over 130 years after its inception, Felton Institute stands as the oldest non-sectarian relief organization in the Bay Area—serving more clients, more counties, and offering more services than ever before. So, what is behind the successful longevity of Felton Institute? A willingness to evolve and meet the needs of an ever-changing community.

Felton Institute was founded in 1889 as a relief organization for San Francisco. By the 1960’s Felton Institute evolved its services multiple times and shifted its focus to behavioral health services. Today, we offer over 50 mental health and social service programs to nearly 90,000 people in Northern California.

Leading an organization that serves some of the most vulnerable populations requires a certain degree of optimism—a belief that our community can thrive when offered proper resources. With the impacts of COVID-19 and other disheartening events occurring over the last few years, it is easy to see more problems than solutions. According to World Population Review, California leads the nation as the most populated state.* With this extremely high population, our home of Northern California faces pressing and daunting issues. It is crucial that organizations like Felton Institute continue to step up to meet the needs of the larger community with perseverance and optimism.

Fortunately, Felton Institute knows how to evolve. We continually search for new and innovative ways to reach Bay Area Californians who need our support the most. When the 1906 San Francisco fire wrecked the city, we altered our services to best support those impacted. When the HIV/AIDS epidemic threatened the lives of so many San Francisco residents, we launched a crisis hotline to specifically support those who tested positive. To combat the harmful effects of the War on Drugs, Felton Institute created a Justice Division to support those disproportionately impacted by incarceration. Felton Institute has weathered dramatic changes in California history for the last 133 years, and we remain committed to our community for 100 more.


About Felton Institute: Founded in 1889, Felton Institute responds to human needs by providing cutting edge, evidence-based mental health and social services that transform lives. Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.

Offering more than 50 acclaimed and honored programs that address homelessness, mental health, prenatal, adolescent, adult and senior needs, Felton Institute provides services in San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Marin, and Monterey counties.

Felton is named for its social services pioneer and executive director Dr. Katharine “Kitty” Felton who was called the ”conscience of San Francisco” and was committed to ensuring that children and families in crisis have access to social services and resources in order to help them build upon their inherent strengths and develop self-sufficiency.