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

2020 Reflections from Funders Together

The Funders Together Staff reflects on what this year has taught us and where we have found hope in the work to prevent and end homelessness.


It goes without saying that 2020 has brought challenges, trials, exhaustion, and grief. With the end of the year closing in, you will no doubt receive many “Year in Review” emails focusing on accomplishments and milestones organizations achieved despite the barriers that were present. For Funders Together to End Homelessness, while our accomplishments are notable and worthy of recognition, I believe it is important to also reflect on what this year has taught us, both as an organization and individuals, and how it has shaped our work over the past 12 months and will continuing shaping it in the future.

This year taught us the importance of living into our values and shifting our work to not just center and focus on racial equity, but also justice. It emphasized the need to rest and prioritize our well-being because the journey to dismantle white supremacy and decenter whiteness is long. It taught us that experiencing and expressing joy as Black, Indigenous, and people of color isn’t just part of the resistance to the ever-present oppression we face, but a birthright and part of our liberation. This year also underscored the necessity of philanthropy’s work to be rooted and operating in justice and healing if we are to achieve what we seek to accomplish.

These lessons will be carried on throughout our work of ending homelessness by achieving housing justice. I know many are anticipating a new year and hoping to wash away the stain of the past year. However, a new year does not bring a clean slate, but instead the opportunity and responsibility to build on what we have learned and know to be true, to hold ourselves accountable to exercising our values in new ways, and to savor to the moments of joy we experienced in order to heal.

Amanda Andere
she/her
CEO

As we reflect on joy and the role it plays in healing, Funders Together staff has also reflected on what has brought them hope:


Stephanie Chan | she/her | Director of Membership and Programs

For years, we’ve heard funders ask for a toolkit or framework to help them with racial equity, and our answer has always been consistent: there are many resources available, but real change requires hard work and constant reexamination of what we believe and how we behave. Though there is still a lot of work to be done, especially within philanthropy, this year I have been heartened by the stories funders have shared about how they have used their privilege to call on elected officials to center racial equity in COVID-19 response, their voice to push their leadership to dedicate more resources for Black, Indigenous, and POC communities, and their humanity to pause workplans and spend time to dig into their own role in upholding racist policies.

 

Tabitha Blackwell | she/her | Director of Networks and Programs

This year has been a reminder that collective action to achieve a solitary goal can be immensely impactful. Both COVID-19 and the nation’s racial reckoning have forced foundations to explore intersectionality to help them think beyond the traditional ways of supporting individuals and families who are experience housing instability. Despite social distancing, in partnership with Northern California Grantmakers, we were able to launch the Bay Area Homelessness Funders Network. It has been a highlight this year to work with the Bay Area Network as well as the other Funders Networks and Collaboratives to begin to create sustainable, systemic change by exploring working beyond the silos in their communities.

 

Lauren Bennett | she/her | Director of Communications and Policy

Despite the immense heaviness and exhaustion we all faced this year, there have been moments where I took a step back to reflect on the hope and joy I was feeling through our policy work. The National Coalition for Housing Justice, which we've been a part of from the beginning, has come together weekly since last November to build trust and use our collective expertise to strategically engage in public policy with racial and housing justice at the center. I witnessed members take up a renewed interest in policy by ensuring their investments support equitable policies and utilizing their influence to boldly speak up against injustice. The launch of the California Homelessness and Housing Policy Funders Network this spring brought me hope as California funders came together to recognize the importance of policy work and built relationships to lay the groundwork for future action. I look forward to using the foundation we’ve built together to be bold in creating a more equitable world rooted in justice.

 

Lauren Samblanet | she/her | Knowledge Management and Communications Manager

As our country has been reckoning with its long history of systemic racism and racial injustice, it has become increasingly clear that we will not reach transformation unless we prioritize listening to, lifting up, and following the guidance of Black leaders. This summer we began an email series called Voices for Justice in the Movement to End Homelessness, which highlights the voices of Black leaders in the fields of philanthropy, homelessness, and intersecting systems. Curating this series has offered me the opportunity to sit with the statements and blogs we have been highlighting, and knowing you are reading these statements, too, brings me hope that through deep listening, we can continue to transform ourselves, our foundations, and our systems to advance racial justice.

 

Holly Sullivan | she/her | Finance Manager

It has been encouraging to hear foundations make strides in their work to achieve racial equity in the U.S. They are raising their voices and are committing the funding needed to influence the shift to a racially just country for Black, Indigenous and people of color. The hard work of our staff and their passion, determination and vulnerability has been incredible, and we will continue to strive towards and equitable and just country.

 

Looking Ahead to 2021


As we look forward to a new year, we are excited to announce that our team will be growing. We are searching for a Membership and Program Coordinator.

This is a full time (40 hours per week) position and is remote. This position reports to the Director of Membership and Programs and provides administrative support on programming, membership, and resource development activities. This position also supports the CEO by maintaining her calendar and assisting her in supporting the board of directors. When it is safe to travel after the COVID-19 pandemic, this position requires domestic travel 6-8 times a year. We encourage people with lived experience of homelessness and/or housing instability to apply.

We invite you to share this job posting with your networks. Learn more about the position.

Thank You for Being Part of Funders Together


The poet, Diane Di Prima, who passed away this year, once wrote “No one way works, it will take all of us shoving at the thing from all sides to bring it down.” We know that it will take all of us to dismantle structural racism and to build systems that place equity and justice at the center. Together, we are working toward justice and equity. We look forward to continuing this work with you in 2021.

We wish you rest and joy as the year comes to a close.

The Funders Together to End Homelessness Staff


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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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