I was recently asked what was the most meaningful part of my work with Funders Together. Without hesitation, I answered with what I reflect on daily: I am blessed to be among people who tirelessly work for their community, our country, and, most importantly, people they may never meet; because they believe ending homelessness is imperative to our humanity. That housing is not only a basic right, it is the pathway to opportunity.
In my faith tradition, we often speak of our joys and concerns. This year, our collective work to end homelessness faced a lot of concern. But it is important to take time to reflect on the joy that comes with the proximity to hope. Even in times that feel so uncertain, we have a unique opportunity through our grantees, partners, and the centering of people with lived experience to see the joy that comes with a home. We see the joy in communities working together to break down silos and create systems that are responsive and lead to real change in people’s lives. I see joy in our collective work to expand philanthropy’s impact and influence to advance the movement to prevent and end homelessness.
Everything we accomplish at Funders Together happens because of the leadership of our board, the incredible network of members who help each other learn, and our partners who help us lift up best practices and challenge our thinking. We are also grateful to our members who invest in our mission to ensure philanthropy’s collective voice can be an instrumental part of the broader movement and bring greater financial and intellectual resources to the work to end homelessness.
This year, we have accomplished together:
- Planned for the Future. Our new strategic goals will help us move from learning to action.
- Raised Our Voice. We have built partnerships with the new administration to enable a smooth transition and the continuation of evidence-based practices that are proving effective in ending homelessness. This has included meeting with Secretary Carson early in his term, developing policy guides for philanthropy and sharing best practices and timely policy alerts that highlight opportunities for funders to be part of policy change and bring the collective voice of philanthropy to advocacy at both the local and national level. Save the date: on January 17, at 3:30 p.m. ET/12:30 p.m. PT, we will hold a special call for philanthropy to update you on the congressional budget, housing policy, tax reform, and working with the Veterans Administration.
- Committed to Addressing Racial Inequity in Ending Homelessness. This has been the focus of the past two Funders Institutes, and this year our board formed a racial equity working group of our members to guide a learning agenda for philanthropy to have a common understanding of the history and current structural issues that lead to racial inequity in preventing and ending homelessness. The work of this group also educates and empowers members to effect change in their grantmaking and overall work within their community with a racial equity lens.
Expanded Our Learning.
- At our Funders Forum in February, we offered space for philanthropy to think about working with the new administration and offered practical ways we could work together on advocacy, as well highlighted learnings from Foundations for Youth Success. Our 2018 Funders Forum will explore philanthropy's role in ending family and youth homelessness by focusing on prevention, intersectionality, building public will, and data. Please join us on February 28 in Los Angeles.
- This year’s Funders Institute, in partnership with the National Alliance to End Homelessness annual conference in July, for the first time offered content exclusively for philanthropy throughout the conference in addition to our full-day learning focused on addressing racial inequity.
- We launched our first issue-based network on ending youth homelessness after completing our two-year community of practice, Foundations for Youth Success, and continue to be active in the steering and policy committee of A Way Home America.
- Kicked off our second community of practice, Foundations for Employment and Housing, which starts in 2018. There is still time to join!
- Partnered with United Way World Wide and began United Ways Ending Homelessness to develop learning and best practices for our member United Ways in recognition of their unique role in their community.
- Offered 11 virtual learning opportunities that provided tailored learning for philanthropy to consider their role in best practices and emerging topics around preventing and ending homelessness.
Expanded Our Network. Because homelessness has no single cause or solution, and recognizing that ending homelessness requires us to be intersectional, we have:
- Joined the United Philanthropy Forum which connects a diverse network of more than 60 regional and national philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs) to lead change and increase impact in philanthropy. I am also honored to serve on their board.
- Developed new partnerships and learning opportunities with regional associations of grantmakers and PSOs that focus on health, education, civic engagement, youth, and LGTBQ issues.
- Presented at a wide range of conferences to engage a broader network of philanthropy focused on ending homelessness and housing stability.
Communicated Our Collective Impact.
- Highlighted the leadership role of philanthropy through our blog, member news, and featured member profiles.
- Have seen our members featured in a series of Inside Philanthropy articles.
- Developed messaging guides for our members and the broader movement about philanthropy’s unique role in ending homelessness.
I find joy in all that we have accomplished together because I know it means we are making progress and addressing the many concerns in our movement to prevent and end homelessness. I wish you a peaceful holiday season. I am confident we will all find that glimpse of hope that keeps us motivated to continue our commitment to a more just and caring community; where everyone has a place to call home.
Amanda Andere is the Chief Executive Officer of Funders Together to End Homelessness. She has spent over fifteen years working in the nonprofit and public sector as a leader committed to addressing social justice, economic opportunity, and security through advocacy for systemic change.