Click Here to read an open letter on racial injustice by our Executive Director.

Our History

At her death in 1854, Caroline Plummer generously bequeathed more than $23,000 for the founding of a “farm school of reform for boys.” Ms. Plummer, who had cared for her siblings after the death of her parents, knew the many challenges facing children in her beloved and growing city of Salem, Massachusetts. By 1855, ten Trustees had been appointed to establish a “school for the instruction, employment and reformation of juvenile offenders.”

Although Plummer was established as a reform school that served as an alternative to jail, it also functioned as a boys’ orphanage. Residents from ages five to 18, attended school, church and worked at Plummer. In addition to operating as a farm, Plummer ran a printing press and had a marching band.

As theories of psychology, child development and the social service delivery system evolved, Plummer changed. In the 1950’s, records suggest the organization ceased to operate as a reform school and started operating as a group home for teenaged boys. Referrals to the home came from the Department of Social Services (now called the Department of Children and Families) rather than the court or private families.

In 2006, Plummer started a period of growth spurred by emerging knowledge and data on best practices in caring for youth in child welfare. Plummer staff became innovators when, in 2010, they developed an Intervention Model emphasizing that young people need families, skills and community to become healthy adults. By 2012, Plummer had begun serving boys and girls in residential and community-based settings.

The name was changed to Plummer Youth Promise in 2017 to reflect both the commitment of the program to connect young people in foster care or group care with permanent families and the promise of a successful outcome. Plummer operates six programs and serves more than 200 young men and women each year.

Below is a timeline with information we know and some (in italics) that our research suggests to be true.



Navigating White Privilege as a Foster or Adoptive Parent 

I have learned to be much more aware that my beautiful, intelligent son faces challenges every day that have not been part of my life. I hope that awareness will make me more sensitive to his experiences as a young man and to be better at helping him navigate his world. He’ll need more than my unconditional love in order to do that.



Sharing Best Practices With Others

Plummer’s work to connect older youth in the child-welfare system to permanent families is breaking new ground. Learn how we are sharing best practices with organizations nationally.

Read more

Get Involved

Ways to Help Now During COVID-19 Pandemic

Learn how you can get involved to help Plummer youth and families right now. Whether it be through a meal donation, volunteering your time or expertise, or making a donation to our Emergency Relief Fund, there's a way for you to help!

Read more