A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Funders Together Houston Celebrates Successes & Future Plans

Funders Together congratulates FTEH Houston on their 1-year anniversary. We’ve enjoyed collaborating with a committed group of funders working together to make an impact on their community!

Successes & Highlights

An introduction from Linda O’Black, Vice President of Community Impact  | United Way of Greater Houston

Funders Together Houston was launched a little over a year ago in January of 2012, and what a wonderful year it has been. Foundations, nonprofit organizations, the city of Houston, and businesses have been on a learning journey – gaining knowledge about homelessness, understanding the local issues, exploring best practices in other cities, learning more about collective impact and identifying opportunities for collaborative investment.  Commitment has deepened and a real spirit of collaboration has naturally evolved.

Funders Together Houston in Action:

A review from Linda May, Executive Director | The Simmons Foundation

Recently, Anne Miskey, Executive Director of Funders Together to End Homelessness, was in town to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of Funders Together Houston, and our staff, along with several other foundations, were seated around a large table with a single focus – becoming better educated around the issue of homelessness.  We discussed options such as pooling and aligning resources so that we can end homelessness as we know it.  We want people permanently housed where they can receive the wrap-around services that will make their transition off the street successful.

One of the things we are most proud of in Houston is the collegiality that exists among funders.  We continue to find ways of working together collaboratively.  Funders Together to End Homelessness is an excellent example. The Simmons Foundation and The Frees Foundation have collaborated on several efforts to raise our community’s understanding about homelessness. To that end, we have co-hosted several opportunities to learn about systemic change, to answer:  What does ’systems change’ mean?  How does it relate to the homeless?  How can our grantmaking become more targeted and effective?  How can what we fund actually make a long-term difference?

Our two foundations jointly purchased a wheelchair accessible, state-of-the- art Homeless Outreach Van for the Houston Police Department.  Although the Mayor and police are thrilled with “Shamu” (the van is black and white), what’s most impressive is the manner in which the Homeless Outreach Team (“H.O.T.”) works with the homeless—thoughtfully and respectfully.  The officers and mental health professionals take pride in knowing they are helping homeless people make a successful transition from the street to permanent shelter with the prospect of leading productive lives.  And knowing that The Simmons Foundation has had a role in their transformation gives purpose to our work.

In addition, several of us participated in the Point in Time Count last month.  It’s a very sobering experience to see young people, individuals and families struggling to find food, a safe place to rest and simply survive another night on the street.

That’s why we’re committed to funding solutions in this area for the long term, continuing to work together to bring about change.

Linda O’Black is the Vice President of Community Impact at the United Way of Greater Houston.

Linda K. May is Executive Director of The Simmons Foundation, with which she has been associated since 2000.  She was the Founding Executive Director of the Greater Houston Women’s Foundation, (now the Women’s Resource of Greater Houston), and before that worked for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) in Government Affairs.  She has served on over 20 boards and commissions locally and nationally. 

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We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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