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

Looking Back to Move Forward: 2021 Reflections from Funders Together

The Funders Together Staff takes a look back at 2021 as we move forward in our work for housing justice in 2022.


Amanda_Andere_Headshot_NEW_(2).jpgMany of us looked to 2021 with much anticipation after the heaviness that 2020 brought. Instead, we were met with a continuation of the pandemic, political unrest, and witnessing injustices play out before us. And still, I think we’ve all been wrestling with the tension between wanting the world to go back to normal and knowing we can’t. I think about this quote often from Sonya Renee Taylor, an author and visionary, who has shared her own lived experience with homelessness.

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”

I have especially thought about the idea of stitching a new garment or planting new seeds and toiling new soil as Aisha Alexandra-Young reminds us that the tree of racism is over 400 years old, the roots are deep, and the fruit they bear is rotten. So, we must uproot the whole thing and start anew.

As we embarked on a new strategic framework for Funders Together during these last two years, we have pushed ourselves to ask the tough questions about what we believe and how those beliefs are reflected in our values and action. Our learning, unlearning, and commitment to liberation has led us to affirm while racial equity is an important first step in addressing disparities, we will not transform, upend, or rebuild without leading with racial and housing justice at our core and knowing the difference between equity and justice is essential as we stich a new garment rooted in liberation.

Looking forward to 2022, we will share more of our vision for how philanthropy can advance housing justice grounded in racial justice and how our organization’s North Star is rooted in radical love and collective care, where people can show up as their true authentic selves in radical opposition to the dominant culture. Our strategic framework will codify the ways in which we have been acting and truth-telling for the last couple of years. It will also serve as a roadmap for how we want our collective work to be different so we can beyond systems change and equity, and be led by people with lived expertise towards transformation, justice, and liberation.

We want to be bold. We want to model and incubate all the ways we tell funders how to act more justly in community. We want to use joy as a resistance to the oppression we face. We will still be a place where all are welcome on their learning journey towards equity and justice. Our goal is always to meet folks where they are, but not leave them there.

We want to imagine with you a world beyond incremental change in housing policy and resources and begin to uproot the commodification of housing. We will get there together. We wrestle with hard truths. We will not always agree on the path, but hopefully when we get to the place of a more liberated community where housing for all is a reality, we will look back and thank ourselves for not sitting in the comfort of small change but rejoice with joy in the ability to reimagine community rooted in housing and racial justice.

Thank you for your continued partnership. Thank you for taking this journey with us into a sacred space of truth-telling, reconciliation, and transformation.

Amanda Andere
she/her
CEO

Funders Together staff reflects on what brought us hope and what we will take with us into 2022:


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

This year, I saw our members seek out deeper knowledge on our nation’s history and the connections between slavery, land use, public policies, and homelessness. Knowing the full picture of history helps us understand how to work toward justice and liberation. It’s a journey we’re excited to continue with our members in 2022 and beyond. 

Word for 2022: Focus – as in, we will remain focused on what matters, which is justice and liberation

 

 

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

At the beginning of the year, I had the chance to kick off the Health System Funders for Housing Justice Network. This was such an important intersection to explore with members. The rise of COVID has certainly shined a light on the increasingly important role of health systems, hospitals, and health plans in the work of ensuring housing is seen as a human right.

Word for 2022: Intersectionality

 

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

It's hard to pinpoint one aspect of our work that has stuck with me this year. But the work Funders Together has done with the National Coalition for Housing Justice continues to inspire and encourage me. It's highlighted the importance of coalition-building and the power of centering those who are most impacted as we work for justice through advocacy. We've learned to collaborate in new ways and transform through vulnerability with each other creating space for the truth-telling and reckoning needed to get to housing justice. I'm eager for this progress to continue into the new year!

Word for 2022: Power

 

Myassa Bey-Jones | she/her | Membership and Program Coordinator

This was my first year working with Funders Together, and I have learned so much. One of the main things that sticks out for me has been togetherness. We work together as a team with our staff, board, and members to create a space of awareness and justice. I look forward to working together to incorporate and put into practice our new strategic plan.

Words for 2022: Accountability and awareness

 

 

 

Holly Sullivan | she/her | Finance Manager

With the passing of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, much of the focus this year has been on emergency rental assistance. We are hopeful that Build Back Better (BBB) will pass by the end of this year. There is much hope that in 2022, with the help of strategic partnerships with philanthropy and others, long term change can and will happen. I'm looking forward to following the efforts of the newly created Partnership for Equitable and Resilient Communities which will help to support the development of guidance for deploying the BBB funds to increase equity in housing, aid in implementation of technical assistance, and evaluate how the funds were deployed and the outcomes of the spending. 

Word for 2022: Collaboration

 

Isaac Manchego | he/his | Administrative Support

As a new part of the FTEH team this year, I was impacted by witnessing the push for progressive, power-building policies and ideas. The centering of racial equity and lived experience and recognition that housing is a human right is a sign FTEH is helping to push the conversation forward. The growing acknowledgement the role housing plays in health and how we've leveraged the resources and networks of health systems was also impactful. I am inspired by the daily efforts of FTEH and its members to help build a more just and equitable society by addressing homelessness and reaching all those in need.

Words for 2022: Equity, Justice

 

Funders Together Board of Directors: Thank You and Welcome!


Funders Together would like to thank Fred Karnas, Kollin Min, Bill Pitkin, Martha Toll, and Joe Weisbord for their exceptional and impactful service on our Board of Directors. Because of their leadership, Funders Together has experienced incredible growth, both in members and in mission. We cannot show enough gratitude for their guidance, support, and partnership during their tenure! 


In addition, we welcomed four new board members to our Board of Directors:

  • Bianca Carter, Trinity Church Wall Street
  • Angela D'Orazio, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland
  • Elisa Harrigan, Meyer Memorial Trust
  • Charles Rutheiser, The Annie E. Casey Foundation

We are honored to have their expertise and passion join an already incredible Board of Directors and look forward to continuing our work towards housing justice with their leadership.


Looking Ahead to 2022


We are excited to announce that Stephanie Chan will become Funders Together's first Chief Strategy Officer in January 2022! As the Chief Strategy Officer, Stephanie will lead the work to implement our new strategic framework and how FTEH's vision for racial and housing justice drive our internal and external activities. We hope you'll join us in congratulating Stephanie!

As Stephanie moves into her new role, we are searching for a new Director of Membership and Programs. This position reports to the Chief Strategy Officer and leads the membership strategy and activities (recruitment, retention, and engagement) and programming strategy and development for the organization.

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

Thank You for Being Part of Funders Together


We send you our very best and wish you a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.

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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