We know people will die if we don’t, so we just do. And if by being there you get to know the name of the person who will not die, your work becomes so much more urgent.”

– Ken Leslie, Founder



With dignity first, to return individuals and families with children to financial and domestic autonomy. 

Tent City


Started in 1990, our annual Tent City is a weekend-long Project Connect/Stand Down event that unites the entire community in a “Festival of Compassion” being staged not for, but with the unhoused and those marginally housed, 1 at a time. Ranged by the state of the economy, 800 to 1,100 people are served by 400 volunteers, many seeing homelessness for the first time.

Tent City provides medical, dental, food, clothing, the return to housing, critical documents, haircuts, and other services to those in need, 1 at a time. Whether volunteer or guest, each person truly connects with another, with new opportunities and perspectives, to create mutual accomplishments. That’s a 1Matter’s Tent City. 

Veterans Matter


Our National Homeless Veterans Housing Program seamlessly integrates local communities, foundations, corporations and veterans groups with the VA & HUD to house your local heroes. We channel our support exclusively, directly and immediately to move local chronically unhoused veterans off the streets and into permanent, supported housing. Once housed, services are lined up to help veterans and their families recapture their lives and return to domestic autonomy.

Veterans Matter has housed almost 4,000 veterans and their families nationwide in 25 states and has attracted the support of over two dozen artists including Katy Perry, John Mellencamp, Dusty Hill, Luke Bryan, Kid Rock, Maren Morris and others.

Project Connect


As a matter of process, we want to create programs to identify and serve the more difficult or under-served areas of need. Rural homelessness is one of those, so we crafted a way to implement CCL to help rural communities identify and serve those in need.

A grant from the Toledo Community Foundation’s ProMedica Advocacy Fund allowed us to provide start-up funding and technical support to create independent events in surrounding rural counties including Hancock, Defiance, and Lenawee counties. Lenawee County continues this event today, leveraging it by using it as part of their annual Point in Time Count.



Having been homeless himself, founder Ken Leslie knows “The only way to get out of where you are, is to work your ass off to get where you want to go.”

There are many barriers which customarily prevent those who are unhoused, living on the streets or in the shelters, from acquiring gainful employment. Continuing our methodology of  “easy problem – easy solution,” lack of access to employment simply means creating accessible opportunities for employment.

Using the global “street paper” model, in 2009, 1Matters.org funded and served as the fiscal agent for Toledo Streets, as well as  provided start-up funding in 2010 for Ann Arbor’s (Groundcover News) and Detroit’s (Thrive Detroit), in 2011. 1Matters.org spun off Toledo Streets as it’s own 501c3 in 2013. All three papers continue to employ and rebuild lives and confidence in self. 


1MATTERS New Program Development

Over the past 30 years as a philanthropist, founder Ken Leslie provided start-up funds for new local programs, such as  the start-up funding for our local Continuum of Care  (Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board), as well as continuation funding for several local strategic or direct programs helping the unhoused in our community.  

After the founding of 1Matters.org in 2007, the program development expanded regionally, including funding for the Project Connects and street papers. Local program development grew to include programs such as Help Portrait ToledoWithin, (a program to address student and youth homelessness), and others. 

The Veterans Matter Homeless Veterans Housing Program is our first national program.

Additionally, using Toledo as a test-bed, several other programs are in pilot development including programs to assist veteran employment, a Guardian Angel Fund to provide needs outside the scope of direct housing, and a program to further engage the music industry.