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

2021 Funders Forum

Banner with FTEH logo and text that says: 2021 Virtual Funders Forum: Housing Policies and Partnerships Rooted in Justice

On March 23-24, we held our 2021 Funders Forum: Housing Policies and Partnerships Rooted in Justice, which focused on housing justice policy priorities at the national, state, and local levels, and opportunities for public-private partnerships. 

Under a new Presidential Administration, housing and homelessness advocates are working to proactively push for policies and practices that are rooted in evidence and justice. And, as the country continues to grapple with the effects COVID-19 and racism has on homelessness, it is important for philanthropy to lean into public-private partnerships.

See below for details and resources from the event. A blog post with reflections from the Funders Forum is coming soon.

Tuesday, March 23

2:00 ET
Opening and Welcome

Resources

 2:15 ET
Plenary: Advancing a National Policy Agenda for Housing Justice

With a new presidential administration in office, housing and homelessness advocates have new opportunities to push for policies and processes rooted in evidence and justice. To kick off this year’s Funders Forum, national homelessness and housing leaders discussed their top policy priorities and how the work happening in local communities can both support this national advocacy and be informed by it. 

Speakers:

  • Jeremie Greer, Executive Director, Liberation in a Generation, and contributing author to Housing Policy Playbook - he/him
  • Nan Roman, President and CEO, National Alliance to End Homelessnessshe/her 
  • Diane Yentel, President and CEO, National Low Income Housing Coalitionshe/her 
  • Amanda Andere, CEO, Funders Together to End Homelessness (moderator) - she/her  

Plenary Recording: Advancing a National Policy Agenda for Housing Justice

  • Please note: Plenary recordings are available to Full Members of Funders Together. If you have any questions about accessing the recording or are interested in becoming a Full Member, please reach out to Stephanie Chan, Director of Membership and Programs.

Additional Resources:

3:00 ET
Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Participants self-selected their breakout session.

 
Breakout A1: Mobilizing Philanthropy at the Local Level to Advance Housing Policy

Local policy and advocacy efforts are critical to implementing policies and processes that will support people experiencing homelessness and housing instability. We know that funders all across the country are working together locally and are increasingly engaging in policy and advocacy. In this breakout session, Funders Together members shared how they are building the scaffolding to move a funders network toward really pushing for racially equitable policy changes, how they’re bringing funders together to follow the policy agenda of organizers, and mobilizing foundation leadership across a state to do joint advocacy.

Speakers:  

  • Emily Krisciunas, Director, Chicago Funders Together to End Homelessness (CFTEH) - she/her  
  • Jazmin Segura, Program Officer, Common Counsel Foundation – she/her 
  • Rebecca Allen, Senior Program Officer, Melville Charitable Trust – she/her 

Session Recording: Mobilizing Philanthropy at the Local Level to Advance Housing Policy

  • Please note: Plenary recordings are available to Full Members of Funders Together. If you have any questions about accessing the recording or are interested in becoming a Full Member, please reach out to Stephanie Chan, Director of Membership and Programs.

Additional Resources

 
Breakout A2: Supporting Community-Led Work and a Vision for Change

Philanthropy has been having more and more conversations about building relationships and trust, funding grassroots organizing, and shifting power to communities and people to get us closer toward equity and justice. Incrementally more and more funders are starting to shift their strategies and grantmaking to do this, but we also know that this work, while crucial, is also not easy. In this session, we heard from funders who are supporting the vision of organizers and taking steps to shift power. This conversation went deep into how our work on housing and racial justice pushes us (as it should!) to navigate different perspectives between community, foundation staff, and board and what funders are learning about visions for new systems that are equitable and just.

Speakers:

  • Paula Carvalho, Program Officer, Youth Homelessness, Raikes Foundation – she/her
  • Brian Paulson, Senior Program Officer, Pohlad Family Foundation – he/him

Session Recording: Supporting Community-Led Work and a Vision for Change

Additional Resources

4:00 ET
Adjourn

Wednesday, March 24

2:00 ET
Welcome and Opening

Whose land are you on? What do you know about their history and culture? How are they still present in your community? How is their history connected to housing justice?

Resources

 2:15 ET
Pop-Up Talks

“Pop-ups” are a way for our network to quickly hear work that philanthropy and our homelessness and housing partners are engaged in across the country. These were brief, 5-minute presentations designed to share information and invite follow-up conversations after the program is over. 

Pop-Up 1: HealthSpark Foundation

The HealthSpark Foundation in Montgomery County, PA, shared how they are supporting research to redesign their county’s coordinated entry system to create an equity-centered intake and triage tool that is more culturally responsive and antiracist than their current tool, used by many across the country.

Presenter: Emma Hertz, Director of External Affairs, HealthSpark Foundation - she/her

Resources

Pop-Up 2: Funders for Housing and Opportunity

Funders for Housing and Opportunity, a national funder collaborative, shared about its support of narrative change work that links the three related crises of our times – COVID-19, the housing crisis, and our country’s racial reckoning. FHO described the evolution of its work to move housing out of a commodity context into a common good/human right framing – starting with field scans and analysis of how housing is currently framed, to specific message testing on housing, to its current support of work that equips housing justice fellows with practical communications tools and supports, informs systems-change policy work, and embeds these messages in arts and culture.  

Presenter: Jeanne Fekade-Sellassie, Project Director, Funders for Housing and Opportunity - she/her

Pop-Up 3: US Department of Housing and Urban Development

With new leadership at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are new opportunities to advance racial equity in housing and homelessness. Richard Cho, Senior Advisor for Housing and Services at HUD, shared brief remarks about work already underway and priorities for the new Secretary.

Presenter: Richard S. Cho, Ph.D., Senior Advisor for Housing and Services, Office of the Secretary, US Department of Housing and Urban Development - he/him

Pop-Up 4: US Interagency Council on Homelessness

Anthony Love, Interim Executive Director at the United State Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), shared some brief remarks about priorities and areas of focus for USICH. 

Presenter: Anthony Love, Interim Executive Director, US Interagency Council on Homelessness - he/him

2:40 ET
Roundtable Conversations

Roundtable conversations were open, generative conversations for funders to share what they’re working on or thinking about and to gather ideas and thought partnership on questions or challenges. 

  1. Building Infrastructure for Public-Private Alignment on Narrative and Messaging Change
  2. Working with CoCs to Build a More Equitable Homeless Crisis Response System
  3. Supporting COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Messaging Efforts
  4. Providing Thought Partnership to HUD on Preventing and Ending Homelessness and Advancing Racial Equity

Reflections from these breakout sessions coming soon

3:15 ET
Transition Break
3:25 ET
A New Deal to End Youth Homelessness

Ending youth and young adult homelessness will require transformation and re-orientation toward justice in the nation’s major systems serving young people—systems currently rooted in structural racism. The New Deal to End Youth Homelessness is a federal policy proposal that offers a roadmap to transform how young people, particularly Black, Brown, Indigenous, and LGBTQ young people, are supported in our society. During this closing plenary, leaders who helped create the New Deal to End Youth Homelessness shared their transformative vision for ending youth homelessness and how the process to achieve that vision must also be rooted in justice. 

Speakers:

  • Marcella Middleton, Co-director, A Way Home America – she/her
  • Kevin Solarte, Director of Cross-System Initiatives, NIS Center for Housing Justice – he/him

Plenary Recording: A New Deal to End Youth Homelessness

  • Please note: Plenary recordings are available to Full Members of Funders Together. If you have any questions about accessing the recording or are interested in becoming a Full Member, please reach out to Stephanie Chan, Director of Membership and Programs.

Additional Resources:

3:55 ET
Closing Remarks

Amanda Andere, CEO of Funders Together to End Homelessness, shared closing remarks.

4:00 ET
Adjourn

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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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