Sam Cobbs is a national expert and policy advisor on at-risk foster youth and the issues they face as they transition into adulthood. In his 20 years of work in the nonprofit field, he has created and implemented programs that successfully reduce poverty and homelessness among vulnerable youth and has been one of the leading voices in advocating for better access to housing, education, employment and health programs that improve their lives.
Since 2005, Cobbs has been the Chief Executive Officer of First Place for Youth, a nonprofit organization founded in 1998 to remedy the lack of services available to California youth who are making the difficult transition from foster care to independent living. Since taking the helm at First Place, Cobbs has navigated the organization through a swift and strategic expansion, from a local Oakland-based program to a statewide institution that serves 2,300 youth throughout California annually.
Cobbs has been recognized for his leadership by national organizations and has been awarded the Anne E. Casey Foundation Children and Family Fellowship, the 2010 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award, and the Red Cross Community Hero Award. He has been recognized by Senator Barbara Boxer, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, California Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass, Assembly Member Jim Beall, Assembly Member Leland Yee and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for his tireless commitment to youth.
Previously, Cobbs worked for eight years at Larkin Street Youth Services where, as the Director of Programs Services, he opened San Francisco’s first emergency shelter for young adults and assisted in the design and implementation of two of the nation’s most innovative housing programs for youth: Ellis Street Apartments, San Francisco’s first permanent supportive housing program for youth, and Larkin Street’s Extended Aftercare for Supportive Emancipation program..
Cobbs is a graduate of the California State University, East Bay, with a BS in Psychology and a MS in Counseling.
First Place for Youth
First Place for Youth is an organization that supports foster kids as they learn to support themselves. We help our young people find safe places to live, get their first jobs, learn to pay their own bills, and learn to become responsible adults. First Place for Youth gives our young people the tools they need to reach their full potential in school, in work, and in life.