Filoli creates meaningful access and connections for youth in need

Peninsula Bridge 6th graders in the Vegetable Garden

Woodside, CA, April 11, 2023– One of the greatest opportunities Filoli has to fulfill its mission of connecting the past to the future through shared stories is by providing programs for youth audiences. In 2021, with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, Filoli piloted a preschool program with outstanding success. This year, Filoli has expanded the program by partnering with state-funded and nonprofit preschools and teen programs with the greatest needs in local counties.

“At Filoli, we continuously balance depth of engagement with the number of people served,” says Director of Learning & Engagement Erika Frank. “In 2020, when we had to pause our elementary school field trip program, we asked ourselves: How can we best use our resources to meet the needs of our community? What youth populations are currently being underserved where we can make a difference?”

Filoli’s preschool program began in 2021 in partnership with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “A tenet of our training was to not come up with ideas we think a community needs,” says Frank. “We needed partners to determine if we were on the right track.” Frank shares that Chinatown Community Children’s Center, a provider for bilingual childcare and social services for families that are below the standard income level, became a key partner in this strategy. A program director from the Children’s Center says that Filoli’s program “refreshed and revitalized everyone’s mind, soul and body. We haven’t gone out to enjoy nature as deeply as [we did during our visit].”

Today, Chinatown Community Children’s Center – along with other state-funded and nonprofit preschools that serve audiences with the greatest socioeconomic and access needs in San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Alameda Counties – partner with Filoli to bring preschoolers to interact with nature. Filoli staff work with each partner to ensure their specific needs are met: for example, reimbursing preschools for private bus rental expenses to ensure schools do not have barriers to participation.

Each preschool visits Filoli three times through the school year for greater access and deeper experiences to increase the children’s comfort in nature and gardens. Filoli provides complimentary memberships to over 350 families through their programs so participating students can visit year-round with their families at no cost.

Program outcomes include expanded STEM and nature programming beyond schools; free access for underserved families; creating opportunities for shared social experiences outside the home to build resiliency within families; and fostering comfort for children to seek out nature and cultural institutions for moments of respite, creative expression, and social connections. Relationships built with Youth Program partner organizations also allow Filoli to serve different communities in new ways. For example, Filoli provides free membership to approximately 100 San Mateo County CASA advocates, volunteers who provide advocacy for foster children, so they can visit with the children and use Filoli as a place of respite.

Filoli is now piloting a similar program model for teens, working with the Peninsula Boys & Girls Club and multiple college bridge programs. Bridge programs help underrepresented students get into and succeed in college, and Filoli is working with these programs to hire six students for summer internships. The paid interns will work in Visitor Services and Horticulture as an introduction to careers in public gardens and museums. Through generous private grants, Filoli pays for transportation to remove this common barrier for participation. Filoli’s college internship program also invests in and prioritizes local community college students who may not have access or resources. “As we expand Youth Programs, our goals remain consistent,” says Frank. “To provide access and opportunities for shared social experiences outside of the home, and to help under-resourced school programs build resilience for students and the community.”

The Filoli Youth Programs are funded through the generosity of our community. Foundations and individual funders have responded positively to Filoli’s model of multi-visit Youth Programs, including the John & Marcia Goldman Foundation which provided a $150,000 grant in 2023. “[Funding Filoli’s Youth Program is] our pleasure, and we are excited to see this program flourish,” stated Marcia Goldman, the foundation’s Secretary and Treasurer.

The model that has been created is expandable and, as more funds are available, Filoli can increase service for all of its Youth Programs. The overwhelming response from supporters, including many first-time donors, has allowed Filoli to expand from two preschools in the pilot to 16 this school year.

To learn more about Filoli’s Youth Programs, lend support, or connect Filoli to a preschool or teen partner please visit

About Filoli
Filoli is a vibrant landscape of the Bay Area, situated on the unceded ancestral lands of the Ramaytush Ohlone, in Woodside, California. The estate boasts 654 acres of beauty nestled along the slopes of California’s coastal range. Originally built as a private residence in 1917, Filoli was opened to the public in 1975 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The property is considered one of the finest remaining country estates of the 20th century, featuring a 54,000+ square-foot Georgian revival-style mansion, 16 acres of exquisite English Renaissance gardens, a 6.8-acre Gentleman’s Orchard, and hundreds of acres of Natural Lands with 5 distinct ecosystems and a 1-mile Estate Trail. Filoli is dedicated to connecting our rich history with a vibrant future through beauty, nature and shared stories, so that one day all people will honor nature, value unique experiences, and appreciate beauty in everyday life. For more information about Filoli, visit

Dani Hielscher, Marketing Manager
86 Cañada Road
Woodside, CA 94062
(650) 364-8300 ext. 235