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CWSL Alum Tackles Youth Homelessness in San Diego

Michael Manley

While at California Western, Michael Manley ’10 won a $500 Masonic scholarship for an essay in which he described a theoretical model for solving homelessness among young people.

Several years later, Manley began to realize his vision for this new kind of homeless-services program that he had written about with the founding of Urban Street Angels in San Diego.

This 501(c)(3) non-profit organization began as a small group of volunteers hitting the streets of Ocean Beach several times a month with backpacks of supplies and home-cooked meals.

But Manley soon realized that a critical element was missing—supportive housing and job training programs for transitional-age youth, to help get them off the streets and provide a hand up.

Manley defines transitional-age youth as being 18-24-year-olds who express a desire to be helped. “Originally we were going to create jobs for homeless youth,” he recalls. “We were also going to find supportive housing for them. At the same time, we were going to continue the meal services whenever we could and the backpacks for homeless people." 

Today, Urban Street Angels is addressing the immediate needs of San Diego’s homeless youth, operating a program that includes housing, meals, access to medical and mental health service, help with GEDs, getting into and succeeding in college, and help with obtaining IDs. It also operates a weekly emergency overnight shelter for 20-25 homeless youth on Tuesday nights at Missiongathering Church in the North Park area as well as owns a social enterprise soap-manufacturing company called 8 West which employs many of the youth Urban Street Angels helps to house.

Manley, who is also an associate attorney at the Encinitas-based Opus Law Firm, where he practices corporate and real estate law, says that his time at California Western helped amplify his already present community-service aspirations. At CWSL, he says he found “a culture that emphasized giving back and focused on service.” It was where students served to benefit underserved communities at the same time they were learning how to become effective attorneys.

For more on Urban Street Angels and 8 West visit: http://www.urbanstreetangels.org