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

Success, Stability, & Support for Children & Families

Because of the generosity of Barbara and Al Siemer, a collaboration of 23 United Ways is sharing best practices and collecting and assessing data that will lead to a better understanding of homelessness and its impact on children.

I’ve recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. where I had the opportunity to participate in the United Way Worldwide National Tocqueville Award ceremony and to reflect on the power of individual philanthropy and the impact donors are making on a national level.

Al and Barbara Siemer

What I learned about this prestigious award is that during the past three decades, those who have been recognized as honorees have rendered outstanding service within their communities and beyond its borders: Honorees like national figures and well-known business leaders. This year, the award honored Barbara and Al Siemer of Columbus, Ohio and Sarasota, Florida, for their many years of service and generosity, culminating in the establishment of the Siemer Institute for Family Stability (SIFS). Barbara and Al have pioneered the work of helping families in financial crisis stay in their homes and keep their children in school.  Because of their generosity, there is on-going collaboration on this critical issue via 23 United Ways by creating an environment for best practice sharing, cross community conversations, and the collection and assessment of data that will lead to a better understanding of the issue of homelessness and its impact on children.

The fundamental aspects of the program are derived by case managers who work individually with participants in need for up to 18 months to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure that a family achieves financial and housing stability.  This partnership allows participants to achieve proven life skills that can be maintained over time.  As it relates to the children, the case managers are connecting children to resources to foster educational success.  The laser focus remains with keeping children in their classroom, but with the understanding that at times, a family may need to relocate, which in turn would require the child to attend a different school.  The case managers create an environment for the adult to provide a smooth, planned move during this situation.  By focusing on providing a supportive transition between schools, the children then have a better chance to do well academically.

Within and between the current SIFS communities, there is a growing opportunity to learn about other programs and incorporate services that have proved to be successful.  With other member United Waysin SIFS, in-person meetings are held annually with quarterly conference call discussions to learn about the successes and opportunities to continue the progress of this national program.

In my role as the National Director for the Siemer Institute for Family Stability, I am responsible for the oversight of several critical areas, but none more important that recruiting new communities that would be a good fit for joining SIFS.  Working with the United Ways, I have been able to learn and understand the negative impact constant mobility has on a child’s education.

The success of the Institute in the first 18 months has allowed for 94% of the participating families to remain in their homes.  The investment made by the Siemers and the local communities to create financial and housing stability will continue to grow and expand into the future while continuing to support and strengthen the lives of families in need.

rob_podlogar_seimer_institute.jpgAs the National Director, Rob Podlogar’s responsibility is to direct the development and implementation of all aspects of the Siemer Institute for Family Stability (SIFS) both long-term, strategic, and day-to-day operations.  He is responsible for overall accountability of the initiative including all fiscal and programmatic oversight, management and reporting.

Learn more about the Siemer Institute for Family Stability by visiting their Resource Center.



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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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