Transforming Lives Through the Power of Work

Founded in 1916 by
Katherine B. Higgins

Katherine B. Higgins, pictured here, was the first woman to found a Goodwill. In 1916 she started a movement that would spread across Southern California, providing social services, health clinics, and discount stores to fund employment and job training.

On March 9, 1918 the first Goodwill Store, pictured above, opened in one of the portable buildings in the Plaza Community Center on Marchessault St., presently the southern end of L.A.’s historic Olvera Street. During a time when the city’s facilities were segregated, the water fountain was a symbol of “brotherhood” where anyone of any race could drink freely.

Today, Goodwill Southern California (GSC) prepares and places thousands of individuals into sustainable employment through programs and services offered at three campuses, Employment Centers, Deaf, Youth and Veteran Employment Programs throughout Los Angeles (north of Rosecrans Ave.), Riverside and San Bernardino counties. We operate over 80 stores and over 40 attended donation centers.

Noteable Events

  • 1929

    The stock market crashes. Goodwill has 20 stores, 29 trucks, two warehouses, three branch workshops, and a payroll of $216,000.

  • 1938

    Goodwill moves into its new headquarters, the first building in the nation built specifically for rehabilitation services.

  • 1953

    Goodwill receives the Distinguished Service Citation from the President’s Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped.

  • 1959

    Our Valley Campus opens in Panorama City to serve residents of the San Fernando Valley.

  • 1965

    Goodwill records two firsts: the placement of over 100 workers in private industry in a single year, and annual store sales of $2 million.

  • 1973

    Goodwill receives a three-year accreditation - the top evaluation possible - from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). The agency will go on to earn this honor consecutively over the next 40-plus years.

  • 1983

    Goodwill starts on-the-job food service training in its cafeteria.

  • 1996

    With the passage of the Welfare Reform Act and the subsequent passage of the Workforce Investment Act in 1998, Goodwill expands its client base to include serving those with vocational barriers to employment.

  • 2003

    Goodwill Southern California assumes Goodwill of the Inland Counties.

  • 2011

    Launch of the Veteran Employment Program to address the specific challenges and barriers to employment that veterans face.

  • 2012

    Goodwill sets a new world record for largest donation of used goods received in a 24-hour period during a donation drive honoring Earth Day.

  • 2016

    We celebrate 100 years of service in Southern California...And COUNTING!

  • 2018

    Opening of the East San Gabriel Valley America’s Job Center of California - operated by Goodwill SoCal - the first AJCC in L.A. County to open in a school district facility.