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

Facilitating Systems Change to End Youth Homelessness: Foundations for Youth Success Minnesota Convening Takeaways (Part 2)


Members of Foundations for Youth Success (FYS) gathered in Minneapolis April 7th and 8th to learn about the inspiring work happening in the state to end youth homelessness. In this second post in our series, Casey Trupin of the Raikes Foundation reflects on how the convening strengthened his understanding of philanthropy's role in preventing and ending youth homelessness.

Foundations for Youth Success (FYS) brings together philanthropic leaders -- large, national funders as well as those working at the community level -- in a Community of Practice that is focused on funders' roles in identifying best practices and implementing effective solutions for our young people.  Throughout this two year initiative, members participate in regular virtual meetings and come together in person twice per year. 

I have been working on youth homelessness for decades, but I am brand new to my role as a funder in this area. The Foundations for Youth Success (FYS) convening in Minneapolis in April helped me develop a much stronger perspective of how the Raikes Foundation and philanthropy in general can help those working with systems address youth homelessness, from government to service providers to youth and parents.


As a state, Minnesota has made a commitment to ending unaccompanied youth homelessness by 2020. The sense was inescapable that those who had rallied around this goal—government, providers, researchers, advocates, business and funders – were serious about accomplishing it. As FYS members, we heard clearly that there was an identified role for all players, and that funders needed to do more than just cut checks.

  1. State and county government can and should play a significant role. Minnesota’s plan, which included ending homelessness for unaccompanied minors and young parents by the end of next year, had very specific commitments from six government agencies. Notably, it recognized what advocates in most states are saying: that the child welfare system has to have the capacity to serve youth ages 15-17 who are without parental support. The government leaders we heard from were clear: philanthropy should help them do their jobs by supporting organizations that advocate for homeless youth.
  2. Youth homelessness is costly. During our trip, Foldes Consulting, working with local provider, YouthLink, released a groundbreaking study about the costs of youth homelessness. The study found that the average youth served by YouthLink who fails to secure financial self-sufficiency will impose a lifetime financial and social cost of over $860,000. Given the high costs of youth homelessness, even a marginal success rate for an intervention would be a good financial investment, not to mention an important moral one.
  3. We must work alongside youth and respond to systemic inequities. Throughout the visit, our hosts, speakers, and fellow funders remarked on the important work of working to elevate youth as leaders in the movement, of respecting their knowledge of what worked and failed for them, and of what needs to change. There is now broad consensus that our work will not be successful if we do not support youth in their efforts to change the system, and if we do not recognize the powerful historical forces that have caused vast racial disparities that are a constant theme in this movement.

Ultimately, Minnesota is setting an example for the rest of the nation by setting meaningful goals, through government leaders making commitments, and through coordinated philanthropic efforts. All told, the visit instilled a balance of hope and replicable actions – two things necessary for all the stakeholders working to end youth homelessness.


SH-022815-0669_casey_800x1298.jpgCasey Trupin is a program officer for the Raikes Foundation's youth homelessness strategy. He has represented thousands of foster youth and homeless adults in litigation and worked on state and federal legislation designed to improve services to low-income children, youth and adults. 

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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