On The Rise grew out of the hopes and stories of homeless women attempting to access programs in the Cambridge, Massachusetts area. Many did not fit the client profiles of these programs; others had been through program after program, never quite finding what they needed. The system gave up on them and they gave up on the system.
In June 1995, On The Rise's founder Katya Fels-Smyth, received a fellowship to create a non-profit organization to work with these women. On The Rise's Outreach/Safe Haven program began in 1996, with two full-time mobile street outreach workers operating out of a small church basement office in Harvard Square. In January 1997, On The Rise moved to a rented space, which accommodated the daytime Safe Haven, a sited extension of our mobile street outreach. It became clear that our Safe Haven was something special, and in the fall of 1997, we expanded our Safe Haven hours from 16 to 40 weekly. In January 1999, we added Saturday hours.
As word about On The Rise spread, use of the program increased dramatically. In 1999, 22-27 women visit the Safe Haven each day, an almost 50% increase from the previous year.
In April 2000, On The Rise took a huge step and moved to a beautiful Victorian residential house at 341 Broadway in central Cambridge. From this home, On The Rise began to offer a full roster of services for homeless women. In just over three years, On The Rise completed a $1.6 million capital campaign to purchase the home and set-up a maintenance fund to secure it’s future as a launching pad for homeless women.
In 2008, we launched the Keep The Keys program to provide additional on-site and home-based services to formerly-homeless women who have moved into their own apartments in Greater Boston. More than 200 of the 347 women housed since 2008, are still connected with On The Rise, and about 82% of those 200 are still housed.
Today, On The Rise continues to grow. We provide innovative and effective services to nearly 450 women annually helping them move from surviving on the street to living and thriving in their own homes.