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.


  • Incorporation of the Plummer Farm School of Reform for Boys (up to 40 boys with a variety of circumstances attended, from a variety of communities)

  • Name changed to Plummer Farm School

  • Name changed to The Plummer Home for Boys (boys may have started attending public schools during this era and the operation of the farm ceased)

  • Operated a group home serving 10 teenaged boys at a time

  • Added on-site Supported Apartment for up to four young men ages 16-22 who no longer qualified for a group home and who had no family with whom to live; in 2016 added capacity for two additional young men

  • Formalized the Plummer Home Intervention Model

  • Opened OnPoint, a non-residential program serving boys and girls ages 10-18 who have had contact with the Juvenile Justice system as well as young people living in Salem’s Point neighborhood.

    Started Community-Based Apartment Program for young men and women who turn 18 while in state care and have no family with whom to live.

  • Opened foster care program for boys and girls from birth to age 22

  • Added a Permanency Practice Leadership Division to provide consultation and training to organization and government agencies nationwide who wish to learn techniques for making sure that youth in foster care and group care have families they can count on forever.


Plummer Youth Promise Receives $1M in State Funds

We are honored and grateful to receive $1M to support our upcoming capital project through this economic package.



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.

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Get Involved

Ways to Help Now

Learn how to get involved to help Plummer youth and families right now. Whether it be through a meal donation, volunteering your time or expertise, or donating, there’s a way for you to help!

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