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

Looking Ahead: An Update from the Staff of Funders Together


We are excited for 2014!  Here's a look at what we're doing and how you can plug in.



As we begin another year at Funders Together to End Homelessness, we are still experiencing winter’s icy grip. The days here in Boston are cold and dark and the wind is chilling. On some days it is hard to leave our warm homes and head out into the snow-covered, frigid world on our way to work.

But we do it – and for one, very good reason. Each of us is determined to make a difference, to work towards making homelessness a word we no longer have to use, a reality no one any longer has to live. It is this determination, this goal, which keeps the staff of Funders Together working hard.

We are excited to look to the year ahead, to continue to work together with our board and our members on accomplishing this goal. While the fact that more than 600,000 Americans are homeless on a given night is a sobering reminder of how far we have to go, we have hope in the fact that progress is being made, that solutions are being created and that philanthropy is playing a vital role.

As Executive Director of Funders Together I am pleased and proud to present some of the work that we will be doing in 2014 – and ask my amazing staff to tell you what they will be doing to make these things happen.


We were founded on the belief that philanthropy has incredible potential for impact and change to help end homelessness in America and we catalyze that potential through our national and regional funders networks. Over the past three years, we have seen firsthand the power of these networks to replicate best practices and take these best practices to scale. For example, we connected our members in Miami and Boston. The result: Miami is now modeling an affordable housing initiative around a hugely successful model, driven by philanthropy, in Boston. And our regional funders network in Los Angeles provided mentorship, guidance, and technical assistance to our members in Houston and San Diego, resulting in the establishment of Funders Together regional networks in both of these cities.

This year, we are excited to begin a new phase of network building: becoming a network of networks. Because our regional funders networks are making things happen at the local level, we want to continue connecting them with other networks that can benefit from hearing their story. We also want to foster new funders networks. As part of our networking series, we will host an event in March, Funders Networks and Collaboratives: A Funders Together Members Meeting. This meeting, generously hosted by the Los Angeles Homeless Funders Group, will bring together members of Funders Together, many of whom are part of regional networks, to share best practices, challenges, solutions, lessons learned, and unique insights on the roles funders networks can play in their communities.


This February, as we head down to New Orleans to run our 2014 Funders Forum on Family & Youth Homelessness, we’re looking forward to more than visiting a one-of-a-kind, vibrant, and special city. A part of our Networking Series, we’ll meet with funders from all over the United States, Canada, and England to talk about solutions that funders can implement to prevent and end homelessness for vulnerable youth, young adults, and families. Most importantly, we’ll be at the helm of a convening that gives funders face time—a chance to share what’s working, exchange energies around overcoming obstacles, and to remember that we’re all in this together. We hope to see you at our forum, which is hosted in conjunction with the National Alliance to End Homelessness's National Conference on Ending Family & Youth Homelessness.


One area of increasing concern for us is youth homelessness. At Funders Together, we have been working to understand the funding and programmatic landscape in this critical area so that we can launch a national initiative designed for philanthropy. So far, in my research, I’m finding a lamentable scarcity of accurate data on youth homelessness. Very few studies focus on youth homelessness, and those that do exist tend to have small sample sizes and other methodological inconsistencies. As a result, we are not really sure how many youth are experiencing homelessness in this country. We don’t fully understand the issues youth face on the streets. And we don’t have a clear sense of the kind of programs that work best.

We do know that homeless youth often encounter many different systems, including the foster care, health care, education, and criminal justice systems, and so a systems approach is extremely relevant for our work in this area. In addition, in order to determine appropriate national policies to prevent and alleviate youth homelessness, more research and funding is desperately needed. We will kick start the conversation at our Funders Forum in February, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with our members throughout the year.


Another area of concern is the rise in family homelessness. Today, in every state, a family that relies entirely on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for income cannot cover the cost of its rent, let alone other basic expenses. Often public policies and government programs focused on family homelessness are not connected with policies, programs, research, and advocacy focused on welfare-to-work programs or poverty.

Next week, we will launch an interactive mapping tool that will outline TANF and Fair Market Rent. This tool will help funders see how effectively -- or ineffectively -- states are addressing the needs of vulnerable families through TANF payments. We need philanthropy to raise its collective voice at state and national levels to educate policymakers about the connections between family homelessness, housing costs, and inadequate TANF benefits for families with children.


While in-person meetings to discuss our work are ideal, we know that most of you interact with Funders Together through our online platforms. So to better capture our work and that of our members, we made several improvements to our website in recent months. These changes are based on your feedback: make Funders Together resources easier to find and easier to share with others.

From the funder toolkit to the blog to the events page, we did just that. Our funder toolkit is now easier to navigate by issue area, and tags at the bottom of each resource will help you find similar pages across our website. With the click of a button, you can share our blog posts and other resources on your Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages. You can also RSVP to Funders Together events through our website and invite friends and colleagues to join you. We welcome your continued feedback on the website.

As you can see by my colleagues’ posts, 2014 is going to be a year in which Funders Together can really make strides in preventing and ending homelessness. The year ahead won’t be without its challenges — gaps in data, cuts in funding, and struggles to align visions. But as a network of nearly 160 funders and growing, Funders Together amplifies the voice and critical work of our members, so that one day we’ll all wake up without a job in this field.

Until then, we’ll see you in New Orleans, in Los Angeles, or on the new site.




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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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