Our History

Kirsten Lodal and Brian Kreiter founded LIFT in the fall of 1998 while students at Yale University. Having been very involved as volunteers in various child services programs, they were struck by the absence of services for the parents of the children in those programs—parents who were often working multiple low-wage jobs, paying their taxes, and sending their kids to school, yet still unable to afford sustained shelter, food, and clothing for their children. They developed the idea of establishing a single center within a neighborhood where families could receive assistance from trained volunteers across a spectrum of social services, including finding jobs, securing housing, obtaining public benefits, and making connections with other social service agencies.

Lodal and Kreiter then spent months consulting with several of the parents they had gotten to know, seeking the advice of dozens of community leaders and social service providers in New Haven, CT, and meeting with policy experts in Washington, DC, to determine whether a model of the kind they envisioned had ever been created and, more importantly, whether there was strong belief that it could make an impact. They received overwhelming support for the idea, as well as for their commitment to building a model that would bypass the traditional shortcomings of episodic, thin volunteer service programs.

With LIFT’s first center firmly established in New Haven, Lodal and Kreiter soon discovered that student leaders on college campuses across the country were dialoguing about the same issues related to poverty and opportunity, and eager to get involved. They recruited passionate student leaders to replicate sites around the country, and LIFT now serves thousands of families each year in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. Today, LIFT has become one of the most active voices in the call to bring domestic poverty to the forefront of our nation’s consciousness.