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 Ways
, 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.
As 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.