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

2020 Funders Institute Agenda

The 2020 Funders Institute will take place virtually August 11-13 from 2:00-4:00 ET | 1:00-3:00 CT | 12:00-2:00 MT | 11:00-1:00 PT each day. We hope you will also join us on August 12 at 4:30 ET (3:30 CT / 2:30 MT / 1:30 PT) for a virtual networking reception. Participation in the virtual networking reception is open to any registered participant, regardless of day(s) they have registered for.

Participants will receive unique call-in information directly from Zoom for each day they have registered for the Funders Institute and will receive reminders with call-in information the evening before and the day of. Please reach out to Stephanie Chan, Director of Membership and Programs, if you have questions.

We will be updating this agenda on a regular basis. Please note that this agenda is subject to change without notice.

If you have registered for the Funders Institute, complete this form to tell us which breakout sessions you wish to attend.

Tuesday, August 11 | Designing Strategies for Housing Justice

2:00 ET

Welcome and Opening


PLENARY: Pushing for Racial and Housing Justice through Strategic Policy and Advocacy 

When we reflect on all that’s happened in 2020 to date, many of us focus on the outbreak of COVID-19, the reckoning with racial injustice across the country, and a long road to economic recovery. The events of this year present us with opportunities to push for racial and housing justice during the rest of this year and into 2021. This conversation will name concrete activities that can inform a strategic agenda to build political and public will to see the investments and policies needed for housing justice.   


3:00 ET

Concurrent Breakout Sessions


Breakout 1A: How Philanthropy is Supporting Local and National Messaging and Narrative Work to End Homelessness

At past Funders Together convenings, we've invited researchers, people with lived expertise, and organizers to talk about changing the narrative and building public will to end homelessness. But, how are funders involved in this work? In this breakout session, we'll hear from two funders: Elisa Harrigan, from Meyer Memorial Trust, about how they supported the messaging that helped a local ballot measure to tax wealthy households for homeless services get passed in Portland, OR. We'll also hear from Aimee Hendrigan and Sarah Armour-Jones, from Melville Charitable Trust, about the national narrative campaign they have launched to shift perceptions about homelessness and housing.



Breakout 1B: Pushing for Housing Justice When Political Will Isn't Aligned

We know what is needed to end homelessness: investments in permanent, affordable housing. Low-barrier shelters and services that do not discriminate based on gender. Policies and resources that are equitable and support the most marginalized people. But, what can philanthropy do when the political will in your community isn’t aligned? How can philanthropy help use their influence to push for equitable policies and stand against discriminatory, racist, and harmful practices?

Join this breakout conversation for brainstorming and peer coaching from other funders who understand what it’s like to work in communities where equitable practices and policies are not part of the political discourse. 

4:00 ET


Wednesday, August 12 | Internal Shifts Toward Racial Equity and Systems Change

2:00 ET

Welcome and Opening


PLENARY: Shifting Toward Systems Change and Racial Equity: A Conversation About Moving the Board and Grantmaking Strategy 

It’s constant and evolving work to focus our grantmaking strategy on systems change and racial equity and to bring the board along on that journey. In this discussion with foundation leaders, we’ll hear how they have been educating their boards and reorienting their grantmaking strategy in equitable systems change and what they found helpful in that journey. 


3:00 ET

Concurrent Breakout Sessions


Breakout 2A: Working Toward Racial Equity in Our Organizations

Funders have been working for several years to shift their organizational culture and grantmaking to be more equitable. But, what does this look like for members of Funders Together? In this breakout session, we’ll hear from funders about what they’ve been working to change in their organizations to make them more diverse, inclusive, and equitable and have an honest conversation about how philanthropy can hold itself accountable to these values. 


  • Lindsay Hill, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Raikes Foundation
  • Kristin Aldana-Taday, Program Officer, Domestic Programs, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation


Breakout 2B: Funding Commitments to Support Black Lives

After the current protests for Black lives started in May, many of our organizations put out statements in support of Black lives. A few foundations have also decided to back those statements through dedicated funding for Black people and Black-led organizations. In this conversation, we’ll hear about three foundation that have made dedicated funding commitments to the Black community and talk about what the work looks like now that those announcements have been made.

Join this conversation to learn more about Meyer Memorial Trust's Justice Oregon for Black Lives initiative, The Denver Foundation's Black Resilience in Colorado Fund, and The Zarrow Families Foundation's Commemoration Fund.



Breakout 2C: Systems Change in Employment and Housing

At the end of 2019, Funders Together concluded Foundations for Employment and Housing, our two-year community of practice that explored how philanthropy can bring the employment and homelessness systems together for real systems change. In this breakout conversation, community of practice participants will share what they learned and what they’ve been working on at the intersection of employment and homelessness.  


  • Brenyale Toomer-Byas, Senior Director for Economic Opportunity, Orange County United Way
  • Heidi Alcock, Director of Grant Development and Communications, McGregor Fund
  • Emily Harris-Shears, Senior Manager of Grantmaking & Capacity Building, Building Changes
4:00 ET


Virtual Networking Reception

4:30 ET

Virtual Reception Kick-off

This virtual reception is only to anyone registered for the Funders Institute, regardless of which day(s) they have registered for. We'll find joy through music and art and deepen relationships during this virtual networking reception.


Guest Artist: Philip Metres, Poet

Philip Metres has written ten books, including Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon 2020), Sand Opera, and The Sound of Listening. Awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lannan Fellowship, three Arab American Book Awards, and two NEAs, he is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University.

Thursday, August 13 | Action and Accountability for Racial Justice

2:00 ET

Welcome and Opening


PLENARY: Uniting for Black Lives and Calling for Action: A Statement from True Colors United and the National Youth Forum on Homelessness 

After the murder of George Floyd, our inboxes were flooded with messages of solidarity. One of the clearest statements we saw was from True Colors United (TCU), in which CEO, Gregory Lewis, handed the pen to TCU staff and members of the National Youth Forum on Homelessness to craft True Colors United’s Statement on Black Lives. This statement balances what we know about systemic racism with clear calls to action and shows why we must listen to LGBTQ people of color with lived expertise. During this plenary, we’ll hear from Twiggy Pucci Garçon, Senior Program Director at True Colors United, about how TCU staff and members of the National Youth Forum on Homelessness crafted this statement and why we must follow the lead of people with lived expertise to find justice. 


3:00 ET

Action and Accountability


In this breakout, participants will be broken up into triads to receive coaching, ideas, and advice about how to move forward a hope or dream to advance racial justice as a funder. This session will require active participation so that participants can receive the support they need to think through what it means to take action and be accountable in pushing for housing justice.

Resource: Action and Accountability Instructions


Asks & Offers 


Before we close, we’ll harness the wisdom of the Funders Together network through an Asks & Offers exercise. Come prepared with a question you’d like resources or thought partnership on, as well as something you can offer to other funders.  

Examples of asks could include:

  • Help strategizing on policy change in conservative communities
  • Racial equity consultants or trainers to lead specific conversations in your foundation
  • Examples of how you’ve pushed grantees to think about racial equity.  

Examples of offers could include:

  • Sharing how your organization has incorporated racial equity into board meeting
  • Thought partnership around navigating difficult values conversations with grantees
  • A racial equity framework that your organization has used or developed 
4:00 ET



Showing 1 reaction

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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