Senator Tom Umberg Honors Orangewood Foundation as 2023 Nonprofit of the Year

June 12, 2023

SACRAMENTO – Last week, Senator Tom Umberg (D-Orange County), and the California State Senate, announced that the Orangewood Foundation, and Chief Executive Officer Chris Simonsen, have been honored as the 34th Senate District 2023 Nonprofit of the Year.

The Orangewood Foundation was established in 1981 as a shelter for abused and neglected children in Orange County -- the first public-private partnership of its kind in Orange County. Today, it is one of the leading providers of youth services in the region, preparing almost 2,000 youth annually for independent adulthood.

For the last eight years, legislators from across California have chosen a Nonprofit of the Year in their district. Traditionally, the Senate and Assembly invite legislators and honorees to a celebratory luncheon on California Nonprofits Day. This year, the June luncheon was held on Wednesday, June 7th in Sacramento. Pictures are attached.

“The pandemic, more than anything, served to highlight the work that nonprofits do for our community. The services and resources provided by the Orangewood Foundation and other nonprofit organizations are awe-inspiring,” said Senator Tom Umberg (D - Santa Ana). “Through collaboration, Orangewood continues to prepare Orange County’s youth to transition to adulthood. Because of Orangewood’s efforts, thousands of individuals, families, and children have access to the necessary resources to prepare them for their futures and to be effective, contributing members of society.”

Orangewood Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Chris Simonsen, noted that:

“Hundreds of teens and young adults in our Orange County community are struggling to meet their most basic human needs.  Many come from the foster care or juvenile justice system(s) or are survivors of human trafficking.  All have experienced significant trauma due to unstable and unhealthy childhoods. These young people need and deserve our help.  They have been placed in extremely difficult life circumstances, usually due to no fault of their own. Most lack a robust family support network to fall back on when challenges arise.  For the majority of these young people, Orangewood Foundation is all they have and we are there with open arms to help them through those challenges and pick them up when they stumble, without judgment.  We are so grateful for Senator Umberg for this recognition of the important and difficult work that our incredible Orangewood team does every day to support these young people in need."

According to Causes Count, a 2019 report commissioned by CalNonprofits, the nonprofit sector is the fourth largest industry in the state, employing more than 1.2 million people. Each year, California nonprofits generate more than $273 billion in revenue and bring in $40 billion in revenue from outside of California.

A total of 114 state legislators selected a Nonprofit of the Year for their districts, the highest participation yet since the program began in 2016. The nonprofits selected for this honor reflect the diversity of the state their work benefits. They address a wide range of issue areas and work in communities both urban and rural. The recognition as a Nonprofit of the Year brings much deserved attention to outstanding nonprofits whose work is often hiding in plain sight.

The Orangewood Foundation staff work one-on-one with Orange County’s youth to help them identify their own strengths, attributes, and aptitudes to empower them to overcome their challenges and reach their greatest potential. The foundation focuses on four critical areas -- health & wellness, housing, life skills & employment, and education – and meets a broad array of needs from groceries and a hot meal, to transitional housing, to life skills workshops and employment leads, to the innovative Samueli Academy public charter school and scholarships for college and graduate school.


Senator Thomas J. Umberg represents the 34th Senate District, which includes the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Fullerton, Garden Grove, La Habra, Long Beach, Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, and East and South Whittier. Umberg is a retired U.S. Army Colonel, former federal prosecutor, and small businessman. He and his wife, Brigadier General Robin Umberg, USA (ret.), live in Orange County.