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

Engaging in Public-Private Partnership with the Next Administration


As our country transitions to a new presidential Administration, Funders Together to End Homelessness is committed to providing you with resources around the upcoming change. Our Policy Priorities for the Next Administration and our blog will be updated to keep you informed about FTEH’s work during this transition. In addition to resources, we aim to convene members to best understand how we can support philanthropy during this process and explore how we move forward as a collective group and movement. 

A couple of weeks ago, several members of Funders Together to End Homelessness were invited to participate in a day-long meeting to talk about best practices for engaging in public (federal government)-private partnerships. The White House Office of Social Innovation co-hosted the event with HHS’s Administration for Children and Families with the hope that they could capture current practices and ideas for improvements so that they could share this with the incoming Administration. Specifically, we discussed:

  • Examples of promising public/private partnerships
  • What are the essential characteristics of effective public-philanthropic partnerships?
  • What are common barriers to effective collaboration?
  • What are promising practical partnership strategies for the future?

There were about 50 people in attendance – half of whom were from the philanthropic sector and the other half representing federal government partners. In addition to Funders Together CEO, Amanda Andere, several members of FTEH attended including David Wertheimer from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Aimee Hendrigan from Melville Charitable Trust, and myself representing the Raikes Foundation.  Below are key highlights from the meeting and some key take-aways.

Key Highlights from the Meeting

We talked about many ways that philanthropic organizations could uniquely work with key federal partners. Specifically, we talked about how philanthropic organizations could:

  • Take more risks and invest in new, innovative ideas that are not yet “proven”, such as  risk capital.
  • Act faster and invest in ideas much more quickly than what government can do at times.
  • Co-convene and learn together.
  • Support evaluation and data capacity – both internally within government and in the field. One concrete example of this is a foundation supporting a community of practice among federal agencies on data and evaluation. Another example offered were some grant makers in health who specifically funded evaluation projects to help answer questions that federal partners felt like were lacking in evidence.
  • Invest in “backbone” efforts that help to coalesce the field and to get diverse stakeholders to speak with unified/aligned voice such as philanthropic investments in A Way Home America as an example of this.
  • Co-invest in “discovery”. A great example of this is the Rapid Results Institute and philanthropic/HHS investments in the 100-Day Challenges to end youth and young adult homelessness.

On the question of what are essential characteristics of effective public-philanthropic partnerships, the group generated lots of ideas including:

  • Importance of trust/relationship building.
  • Understanding each other’s goals and ultimate aims but also how each sector works. What is the enabling environment for each sector? How do we more effectively educate each other about what we can do and what we can’t do?
  • Understanding each other’s unique roles. Philanthropy has a role to play, but government can also play an important and unique role. Specifically, they can remove barriers and disseminate and scale what is working.
  • Co-creation of ideas and not approaching each other once we have determined our own strategies.

We talked about how important it is to share what works and also to share examples of “failures” and to learn what didn’t work.

I was reminded again of how important it is to build, and continue to re-build, relationships with key federal partners. As we think about 2017 and the new incoming Administration, I’m looking forward to working with FTEH staff and members to identify how we can continue to partner with key federal partners as we work together to prevent and end homelessness in our country.


katie_hong_sized.jpgKatie supports the Raikes Foundation’s national work on early adolescent development and leads the foundation’s efforts around youth and young adult homelessness. Previously, Katie worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she oversaw its initiative to reduce family homelessness and the foundation’s advocacy grantmaking, including education efforts in Washington state. Katie has also served as the Director for the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing and spent time as Executive Policy Adviser to Governor Gary Locke and as a White House Fellow for both the Clinton and Bush Administrations. Find her at @KatieHSeattle.


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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