Where a child lives should not determine his or her future. 

KidWorks ushers hope into Orange County’s most challenging neighborhoods through life changing leadership development and academic enrichment programs while also fortifying families by engaging and supporting parents.

KidWorks, founded in 1993 by Larry and Jayme Acosta, began in a tiny, one-room apartment on Townsend Street as a summer safe haven for children and youth. From the beginning, KidWorks recruited college students to live and work in the community. Our Executive Director, David Benavides, was one of the first students to volunteer. His time with KidWorks began with an
eight-week program that changed his life, and ours, forever.

Since 1993, KidWorks has grown into a vibrant community development non-profit that serves central Santa Ana students and families through a fully licensed preschool, after-school programs, tutoring, mentoring, and adult services in the areas of health, parenting classes, and support groups.

With Ava Steaffens as our Chief Executive Officer from 2002 to 2015, KidWorks grew into a strong organization with deep roots in the community.

In 2005 we opened our main community center, the Dan Donahue Center, in honor and memory of a KidWorks’ dear friend, Dan Donahue. His friends and family raised over a million dollars to provide hope and restoration to central Santa Ana by helping purchase and renovate the building that now bares his name. 

In 2009, thanks to a generous in-kind donation from Orange Housing and C&C Development, the KidWorks Center on Townsend Street opened. In 2011, KidWorks opened a third community center in the Bishop Manor neighborhood.

In 2015 KidWorks opened a fourth center in the Cedar Evergreen neighborhood. We also launched the Building Dreams Capital Campaign to fund the expansion of the Dan Donahue Center so that we could double our capacity to serve children, youth, and parents in central Santa Ana.  Our expanded KidWorks Dan Donahue Center opened its doors in the fall of 2017! 

In partnership with our valued supporters and volunteers, we are guiding children and youth towards positive life choices and redirecting their path towards college.   

KidWorks continues its legacy as a beacon of light and hope. 


To restore at-risk neighborhoods…one life at a time.


To transform challenged neighborhoods in central Santa Ana by building on the strengths and potential in the
community through education, character formation, and personal development.


1. Faith: Demonstrating God’s love and Christ-like values in all we do.

2. Empowerment: A commitment to quality education and developing local leaders.

3. Respect: Creating an atmosphere that affirms the dignity of every individual.

Core Operating Principles

1. Performance: We are committed to excellence and accountability in order to achieve measurable results
that demonstrate our positive impact in the neighborhoods we serve.

2. Strategic Partnerships: We maximize our results by joining with key individuals, volunteers, churches,
businesses, foundations, and agencies in order to best serve the community.

This Is My Neighborhoods gives some great history on KidWorks. Enjoy!