Melville Charitable Trust spent a year examining and honing its grantmaking to prevent and end homelessness. Find out how they did it.
I am very excited to announce the Trust’s new grantmaking strategy, designed to help us achieve our mission to prevent and end homelessness. We remain more committed than ever to our mission, but it is time to hone our approach. Not only is homelessness changing – we’re seeing more homeless families than ever before, and youth homelessness is a growing concern – but we now know so much more about what works and what doesn’t to end homelessness.
The new strategy emerged after a year-long deliberative process in which we examined many different factors. We looked at the changing social, economic and political landscape, the research demonstrating what we know and don’t yet know about what works to prevent and end homelessness, and the impact of the Trust’s grantmaking efforts to date.
With these things in mind, we decided that, through our grantmaking, we want to be intentional about moving providers, government, philanthropy and communities away from emergency, palliative responses that perpetuate the problem toward proven, scalable, and cost-effective solutions that will end homelessness among adults, youth, and families. We remain steadfast in our commitment to housing as the primary building block for ending homelessness.
Over the next five years, the Trust’s grantmaking and other investments will seek to:
- Strengthen the housing and support services delivery system;
- Transform public and private systems;
- Increase civic and political will and investment;
- Build leadership that fosters collaboration.
Funding will be awarded to nonprofit organizations engaged in these efforts whose work falls within one of the Trust’s three primary program areas: Housing, Health and Support, and Income. As you’ll see below, we will direct funding to initiatives that address priorities within each of these program areas.
I expect few of these changes will surprise anyone who knows us as an organization. But we believe that better clarity on our priorities, approaches, and goals will be of benefit to those who seek funding from us and will also make us a better funder.
We invite you to explore our website’s updated Grantmaking section to learn more about our new strategies. As always, feel free to contact us if you have questions. We are excited about the opportunities ahead to help ensure that everyone has a place to call home.
How can you rethink your homelessness grantmaking strategy?
Use data to identify critical areas of need. We pulled data from many sources, including HMIS (Homeless Management Information System), the Opening Doors – Connecticut initiative, and reports and studies accessed through national sources such as the National Alliance to End Homelessness and the US Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Focus on solutions. We keep permanent, affordable housing at the center of our efforts because it is the stable platform for addressing other issues that may lead back to homelessness.
- Think big, but stay targeted. We’ve found that making long-term investments in a set of targeted initiatives designed to fundamentally change the way things work has had a much greater impact than one-time grants to multiple programs. We’ve also discovered that changing systems is not always about bringing lots of money to the table. Many times, our ideas and our partnerships with other funders (including government) can have an equally catalyzing effect.
Janice Elliott is the Executive Director of the Melville Charitable Trust, the nation’s largest philanthropy focused exclusively on ending homelessness. She brings over twenty-five years of innovation and achievement in creating solutions to prevent and end homelessness through advocacy for systems change, and the creation of supportive and affordable housing for vulnerable individuals and families.