The First Place organization was founded in 1989 by a small group of educators and social workers who saw that homeless children were not in school and decided to do something about it. First Place began operating on April 10, 1989 as a transitional school for homeless children and, by the end of the first week of school, 20 children were enrolled.

The First Place organization incorporated as a 501(c)(3) and became one of four Washington State sites through which homeless children attended school (First Place, 2007). From the beginning, First Place set out to provide the services designed to enable a student and family to address the complex set of educational, physical, emotional, and environmental issues surrounding their current circumstances. As a result, First Place gave children the special attention and services they were unable to receive in a traditional public school.


  • Establishing a $3.2 million endowment that began producing generous and consistent revenue for the first time in 2009;
  • External acknowledgement of First Place education staff, administrative staff, and case management staff as skilled professionals honored with numerous awards received and showcased to the public through peer and professional associations; and
  • Creating ongoing and continuous partnerships agreements with myriad non-profits, governmental agencies, and universities to deliver services including housing, mental health, health, and wrap-around, supplementary, and summer education.
  • Parents of current and former students and Central District neighbors supported the opening of First Place as a new charter school.
  • In November 2012, Washington State voters approved Initiative 1240, allowing public charter schools to be created.  The leadership of First Place saw the charter law as an opportunity to secure steady funding, improve our operation, and to deliver our unique service model to more children.
  • First Place Scholars was the first authorized charter school in Washington State, transitioning from a private to a public entity in the 2014-2015 school year.  
  • In school year 2015-16 our Board of Directors elected to return to private school status.