Often, relationship-building within the administration is focused on political staff, with the expectation that this influence will advance favorable policies and practices. As we look to reimagine the homelessness and housing systems, philanthropy should also build strong partnerships with career staff as well. These individuals that align on values and priorities have knowledge and expertise of the most effective ways to push policies and programs through the right channels to implementation.
Creating mutual support networks among both political and career staff and providing them with the backing to push bold policies generates conditions in which they can strategically advance racial and housing justice internally within agencies and departments. In addition, building this support can result in long-term sustainability of allies within the federal government that can ensure progress made is continued and institutionalized.
Funders should meet with past and current career staff to build relationships and understand the most effective form of support networks and what mechanisms and resources are needed for the staff to gain support from leadership and follow through with implementation.
To accomplish this, philanthropy can:
- Push to meet with top political and career leaders responsible for specific programs to start the relationship-building process and put it top of mind for leaders.
- Engage in “match-making” and connect career staff within federal agencies and departments to philanthropic staff for follow-up and implementation assistance.
- Form committees composed of leaders at comparable levels (i.e. political leaders meet with senior philanthropy staff, program officers meet with career and program staff, etc.)
- Construct program and policy committees where best practices and evidence can be candidly discussed and conversations around public-private partnerships can bud.
- Work with and provide funding to grantee partners to host civilian employees of federal agencies for a temporary period of time through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) mobility program.