Advocacy represents an important element of philanthropy, leveraging our voices to effect change. As part of ongoing effort to provide support and programming on advocacy, we've compiled resources that can aid you in starting and continuing the conversation around this topic in your work to prevent and end homelessness. We will be updating this page with timely resources as they become available, so be sure to check back often!
Federal Intervention on Homelessness Resources
In September 2019, word of possible federal intervention on homelessness in California by the Administration circulated in the news. Then, on Monday, September 16th, the White House's Council of Economic Advisers released a troubling "State of Homelessness in America" report, which outlined actions the Administration may take as part of this intervention. This page provides a timeline of events, responses to the events, and resources for funders.
Funders Together Policy Priorities
We believe philanthropy has a voice in addressing homelessness and advancing solutions to prevent and end it with Congress and the Presidential administration. As Funders Together to End Homelessness prepares to work with the administration, together with our national partners we are focused on continuing to make preventing and ending homelessness a bi-partisan priority.
How Would Terminating USICH Affect Efforts to End Homelessness? Preliminary Findings from Interviews with Federal Agencies, Communities, and Advocacy Organizations
This brief, by the Urban Institute and funded by FTEH members, including the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Melville Charitable Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and Butler Family Fund works to understand the US Interagency Council on Homelessness’s (USICH’s) role in the nation’s efforts to end homelessness and potential effects of the agency’s planned termination in 2017.
The Legal Limitations on Advocacy
Funders can and should be advocates for policies and funding streams that can end and prevent homelessness. Understand the legal restrictions on private foundations’ advocacy efforts with this resource.
Webinar: Investing in Change - Supporting Advocacy and Policy Efforts
In this webinar, Funders Together partnered with Alliance for Justice to answer burning questions from our members like: How can philanthropy make the case for funding advocacy to end homelessness? Uncertain whether you can fund grantees that lobby? What’s philanthropy’s role in educating new members of Congress on housing and homelessness issues? Can philanthropy support local ballot initiative work?
Webinar: Advocacy - The Funder's Role
Now is the time to strategize how we can best use our resources as funders to help advocate for innovative and effective solutions to ending and preventing homelessness. In this webinar, we examine the various roles a funder can take to advance advocacy efforts at all levels: local, state, and federal.
Webinar: Advocacy 101 for Funders
In this webinar, the Alliance for Justice leads us on a continued learning journey around various ways foundations and United Ways can partake in advocacy to effect change. We defined lobbying and the limitations in place for different types of funders, shared examples of unique and effective ways Funders Together members engage in advocacy, and examined ways your grantees can become involved.
A priority of Funders Together to End Homelessness is to engage philanthropy in addressing racial disparities in housing and homelessness and advancing racial equity. As part of ongoing effort to provide support and programming on equity, we've compiled resources that can aid funders in starting and continuing the conversation around this topic in your work. We will be updating this page with timely resources as they become available, so be sure to check back often! This is not an exhaustive list, so we recommend checking with our various partners also engaging in this work.
In 2019, Funders Together to End Homelessness released our Commitment to Racial Equity to show how we have and will use a racial equity lens to support our members and the philanthropic sector to shift its practice, policy and grantmaking actions and how we will foster greater diversity, equity, and inclusion within FTEH as an organization. You can view the Commitment here.
Levels of racism: interpersonal, institutional, and structural/systemic
- Highly recommended reading: Levels of Racism: A Theoretic Framework and a Gardener's Tale, by Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones (3 pages)
- Structural racism: part I with Dr. john a powell and part II with Dr. Ibram Kendi (Each 1 hour videos)
- Also note: internalized inferiority/oppression and internalized white superiority
Equality vs. equity vs. justice
- Equality vs. equity: Most often “equality” is used to refer to inputs – people receive the same resource, with the expectation that the outcome will be the same. However, if people are situated differently when receiving the same resource, equal input will only reinforce existing inequalities. On the other hand, we urge the use of “equity” to refer to outcomes – all people can achieve a valued goal or circumstance – that typically require differential resources — because groups are not situated similarly at the outset. Racial equity is measurable, as seen when disparities are declining or gaps are closing across racial groups on a given indicator of well-being. (Source: Race Matters Institute)
- See the definitions and examples on pages 8-10 of Grantmaking with a Racial Justice lens,which explains the difference between racial equity and racial justice. As the guide says: "A racial equity lens separates symptoms from causes, but
a racial justice lens brings into view the confrontation of power, the redistribution of resources, and the systemic
transformation necessary for real change."
- Targeted universalism
- 11 Terms You Should Know to Better Understand Structural Racism (Aspen Institute)
- Equity vs. Equality and Other Racial Justice Definitions (Annie E. Casey Foundation)
- Racial Equity Tools Glossary (racialequitytools.org)
Funders Together Resources
Learning Series and Webinars
Race Matters Institute Webinars 1-2 Debrief
Funders Together has been hosting a four-part webinar series, led by Race Matters Institute, that covers a range of tools for understanding the history of racial inequity in homelessness, conducting a racial equity impact analysis, and developing strategies to advance racial equity in your organization. In this video, Stephanie Chan, Director of Membership and Programs, provides a debrief of the first two webinars in the series.
SPARC Phase One Study Findings
In this webinar, Marc Dones and Jeff Olivet provided an overview of the findings from the Phase One Study released in March 2018 and shared what they mean for the field of homelessness.
2019 Funders Institute Past Events page
From July 22-24, 2019, we convened sixty funders in Washington, DC for our annual Funders Institute to learn about removing barriers to advance racial equity from the ground up. Held in conjunction with the National Conference on Ending Homelessness, program participants learned about what other funders are doing to advance racial equity, Native homelessness, how to engage in advocacy at the congressional level, and how to support grantees in doing racial equity work.
Resources related to specific conversations are linked on this page.
Ending Homelessness Means Ending Urban Native Homelessness
During this webinar, we shared how the Coalition to End Urban Native Homelessness is partnering with nonprofit and Native organizations, government agencies, tribal leaders, and philanthropic partners to drive long-term systems change. Ending urban Native homelessness requires a culturally competent, collaborative approach, and this webinar will explore how AI/Ans have historically been undercounted and under-resourced, and what funders can do to support ending urban Native homelessness.
New Research on Racial Inequities in Coordinated Entry System Assessment Tools
C4 Innovations released findings from their latest research project examining how coordinated entry system assessments are perpetuating racial inequities by prioritizing white people for housing services and capturing vulnerabilities that white people are more likely to experience. This webinar brought this new research to our members. In this webinar, participants were one of the first to hear their research findings, what this means for funders working in homelessness, and what needs to happen next to end racism in the homelessness system.
Are Housing Vouchers Contributing to Racial and Economic Segregation for Families with Children?
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently conducted an analysis on the location of families with children using housing vouchers. This is the first metropolitan-level analysis, to CBPP’s knowledge, to explore the concentration of families using vouchers across multiple neighborhood characteristics, including poverty rate, an opportunity index, and the share of residents who are people of color. This webinar discussed the findings, which help us better understand how local voucher programs perform relative to the local housing market and identify areas for improvement. We shared highlights from the analysis and discussed how funders can think about these findings and their investments in their communities.
Blog Posts and other Resources
A Brief Timeline of Race and Homelessness in America
This brief timeline lays out the history of the connections between race and homelessness in the United States and is intended to inform the work ahead in pursuit of racial equity.
Statement on the Continuous Killing of Black People, White Supremacy, and Anti-Blackness
A statement from Funders Together CEO, Amanda Andere, on the continuous killing of Black people, white supremacy, and anti-Blackness.
COVID-19 Resources for Philanthropy page
In light of concerns surround COVID-19 and how it's affecting our neighbors and communities, we know it's been top of mind for many funders and partners. This page includes general resources for funders as well as resources focused on COVID-19's impact on housing and homelessness as well as racial equity focused resources.
Voices for Justice in the Movement to End Homelessness
Funders Together is sharing statements, articles, and other resources that highlight the voices of Black leaders in the fields of philanthropy, homelessness, and intersecting systems.
An Open Letter to Philanthropy: The Cure to Viral Racism Is Within Our Hands
This joint statement was included as part of an article "Asian American Grant Makers Call on Philanthropy to End Violence and Bias on the Rise as Coronavirus Spreads" published in The Chronicle of Philanthropy 4/8/2020. This post originally appeared on APPIP.org.
Ending Homelessness by Committing to Racial Equity
Past Board Chairs, Bill Pitkin and Janice Elliott, and current Board Chair, Katie Hong chronicle the racial equity learning journey of Funders Together to End Homelessness from naming it as a strategic priority to making its Commitment to Racial Equity.
2019 Funders Institute: Reflections from a Family Foundation Perspective
Marci Lu, Senior Program Officer at the William J. & Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation, attended the first day of the July 2019 Funders Institute, Removing Barriers to Advance Racial Equity from the Ground Up. In this post she outlines key takeaways on how family foundations can support community work that’s advancing racial equity and addressing racial disparities.
Trust Building and the Process of Learning: Reflections from the Foundations for Racial Equity March Convening
On March 6-8, twenty-five funders from across the United States and Canada gathered in Portland, OR to kick off Foundations for Racial Equity (FRE), our two-year community of practice for funders who want to undo structural racism to end homelessness. We came together to learn and share resources on racial equity work in our organizations and communities, identify collective action steps, and build relationships and trust with each other.
Prioritizing Racial Equity Through Experiential Learning
In the summer of 2018 the Butler Family Fund board and staff along with other Butler family members, traveled to Alabama to take their racial equity learning from behind conference room walls to an on-location “classroom” filled with the most qualified teachers – those with lived experience. Funders Together spoke to Martha Toll, Executive Director, and Anne Morin, Program Officer, about the events leading up to the trip, their experience and reactions, and how other foundations can incorporate immersive learning to further their racial equity journey.
2018 Funders Institute: Reflections From The Day
In July at the 2018 Funders Institute, attendees gathered to share what they are learning about homelessness prevention, including what it is and how to work effectively with other systems to really end homelessness. The highly interactive day included a panel discussion, speed networking on what we’re each learning in our work, roundtable discussions, and opportunity to connect with multiple national leaders.
What Funders Are Saying About Racial Equity and Homelessness
On February 7-8, 2018, the Racial Equity and Homelessness Summit convened to address the connection between racial inequity and homelessness with attendees from across the country. Kollin Min, Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who co-sponsored the convening with the Raikes Foundation, recaps the highlights of the two-day event and funders who were present share their thoughts, takeaways, and responses to what they learned at the summit.
CEO Reflections II: When Should Philanthropy Lead From Behind?
“How should we respond?” Funders Together CEO, Amanda Andere, asks the question of philanthropy in light of the tragic events in both Charlottesville and Texas in 2017.
An Equity-Based Approach to Fighting Homelessness
What does it mean for philanthropy to make a commitment to equity and its intersection with homelessness? Rosa Benitez of the Weingart Foundation dives in to how her foundation has been answering this question head on.
Why We Must Address Racial Inequity In Our Efforts To End Homelessness
Why is Funders Together to End Homelessness addressing racial inequity? Our CEO, Amanda Andere, explains how philanthropy's involvement in focusing on the structural issues that cause racial inequity can create a path to truly making sure homelessness is rare, brief, and one-time.
National Racial Equity Working Group
The National Racial Equity Working Group (NREWG) is leading the movement to center racial equity in the response to homelessness across the United States. The working group was launched by Amanda Andere, Marc Dones, Brittani Manzo, Jeff Olivet, and Jessica Venegas in 2019 and is now made up of individuals from 36 organizations focused on housing and homelessness. Learn more about NREWG.
Reports, Guides, and Toolkits
Race Equity and Inclusion Action Guide
One way to achieve social change in an organization is to incorporate race equity and inclusion at every stage of work. The seven steps in this guide, from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, provide a clear framework for undertaking this important work. This tool adds to the resources already created by partners who have been working in the field.
New Resources Help Organizations Advance Race Equity at Every Step
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s seven-step guide, Race Equity and Inclusion Action Guide, aims to help organizations advance race equity and eliminate systemic barriers en route to improving the lives of children and families. Now, in partnership with several leaders in race equity, the Foundation has created and compiled a new set of resources focused on helping social-sector organizations navigate every step of this seven-part journey.
Racial Equity and Homelessness in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania: Initial Findings
In this report Your Way Home Montgomery County shares the first cut of an analysis of our data, policies and procedures, and personnel recruitment through a racial equity lens.
Blog Posts and News Articles
Reports, Guides, and Toolkits
American Healing Racial Equity Resource Guide
As part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's American Health work, this guide shares insights, resources and tools of individuals and organizations that have been working to foster racial healing and racial equity in communities.
Coordinated Entry Systems: Racial Equity Analysis of Assessment Data
C4 Innovations released findings from their latest research project examining how coordinated entry system assessments are perpetuating racial inequities by prioritizing white people for housing services and capturing vulnerabilities that white people are more likely to experience.
DEI Toolkit for Consultants to Grantmakers
Guide your philanthropy clients through the complexities of their work in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) with this DEI Toolkit for Consultants to Grantmakers by National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers. Help consultants and grantmakers alike look through issues with a DEI lens. The toolkit consists of key resources recommended by leading experts whose work focuses on DEI and its significant impact in the philanthropic sector.
Integrating Racial Equity in Foundations, Governance, Operations, and Program Strategy
This paper from the Consumer Health Foundation provides an excellent overview of framework for organizing racial equity efforts within philanthropy.
Equity as a Leading Principle
This is Part One of a five-part series titled, “Equity and Evaluation: Models of How Equity Can and Does Impact Evaluation” by the TCC Group.
Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens
This guide by the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity centers what racial justice activists want funders to know and includes experienced funders’ stories and how-to tips on advancing racial justice.
Racial Equity Network Toolkit
This toolkit from the National Alliance to End Homelessness's Racial Equity Network (REN) helps to identify the following set of existing tools that you might find helpful as you get started in racial equity work in your community.
Report and Recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness
This report summarizing the key insights illuminated by the Los Angele Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA) Commission as well as the Committee's recommendations for necessary action to advance equity and eliminate racial disparities impacting Black people experiencing homelessness across Los Angeles County.
The Road to Achieving Equity: Findings and Lessons from a Field Scan of Foundations That Are Embracing Equity as a Primary Focus
This report from Putnam-Consulting Group and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provides a look at some of the efforts leading foundations are making, as well as the challenges they face. Based on interviews with 30 foundation leaders, this report explores the ways in which foundations are applying principles of equity within their own operations - from grantmaking, to investments, to human resources.
Supporting Partnerships for Anti-Racist Communities (SPARC) Phase One Study Findings
New research from SPARC documents that people of color are dramatically more likely than White people to experience homelessness in the US. The message is clear: to end homelessness, we must confront structural racism. The report offers strategies for organizational leaders, researchers, policymakers, and community members.
State of Homelessness: A Look at Race and Ethnicity
A overview of findings from the 2020 Edition of the State of Homelessness from the National Alliance to End Homelessness
True Colors United for Black Lives
A statement from the staff of True Colors United and the membership of the National Youth Forum on Homelessness.
Why Am I Always Being Researched?
Chicago Beyond created this guidebook to help shift the power dynamic and the way community organizations, researchers, and funders uncover knowledge together. It is an equity-based approach to research that offers one way in which we can restore communities as authors and owners.
Why We Need to Talk About Racism and Family Homelessness
This Powerpoint from the Center for Social Innovation provides important background and data on the connection between racism and homelessness.
Learning Series and Webinars
Putting Grantees at the Center of Philanthropy
This series from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, in partnership with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, focuses on grantee inclusion and provides perspective from both the philanthropic and grantee view on why and how making grantees the center of philanthropy can advance initiatives and help them succeed.
Putting Racism on the Table
In 2016, WRAG launched Putting Racism on the Table, a learning series for philanthropy. The series, from January - June 2016, convened philanthropic CEOs and trustees to learn from experts on the many aspects of racism, including structural racism, white privilege, implicit bias, mass incarceration, and the racial mosaic of this country.
Resources from the series are available on the WRAG website.
Blog Posts and News Articles
Bolder grantmaking: Integrating Racial Equity Impact Assessments in requests for proposals
This blog from the Consumer Health Foundation focuses on the Foundation's revisiting of grantmaking protocols and a new practice to ensure that its investments are truly impacting communities of color.
Confronting anti-Blackness in immigrant justice philanthropy
In this Q&A with NCRP, Daranee Petsod, president of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), urges funders to confront and overcome this implicit and explicit bias for greater impact.
Dear Philanthropy: These Are the Fires of Anti-Black Racism
By Will Cordery, Advisor with Leverage Philanthropic Partners LLC
Kathleen Enright, former President and CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations explains why having conversations around racial equity is critical and will require us to be vulnerable if philanthropy is to succeed in addressing race and making positive changes in their communities.
Homelessness, Racism, and Social Justice
Jeff Olivet, Center for Social Innovation, examines the connection between homelessness, racism, and social justice in this Huffington Post blog post.
How Community Land Trusts Can Advance Racial and Economic Justice
In this Q&A, the Urban Institute speaks with Tony Pickett, CEO of the Grounded Solutions Network, to learn more about how community land trusts can generate opportunities for wealth creation, racial equity, and neighborhood stability
How Philanthropy Can Work to Give All Black Men an Opportunity to Succeed
By Tamara Lucas Copeland, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG)
How We Should Talk about Racial Disparities
By Natalie Spievack and Cameron Okeke, Urban Institute
"Non-Racism" Is Not Enough
By Aisha Alexander-Young, Meyer Foundation
Philanthropy and Indian Country
Posted on Philanthropy Northwest, by Se-ah-dom Edmo, MRG Foundation
Philanthropy with a Racial Equity Lens
Posted on the Center for Effective Philanthropy, by Anna Cruz, The Kresge Foundation
Race and Homelessness and inextricably linked. Here's what we're doing about it.
Posted on Community Solutions
Racial Equity and the Role of Foundations
Posted on Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, by Kendra Allen, Consumer Health Foundation
Serving Native Women Experiencing Homelessness: From Trauma to Transformation
Posted on the National Alliance to End Homelessness, by Colleen Echohawk, Chief Seattle Club
The Association of Racial and Homelessness Microagressions and Physical and Mental Health in a Sample of Homeless Youth
This article focuses on experiences of microaggressions, or subtle forms of discrimination, in homeless youth by describing the development of a new scale measuring homelessness microaggressions and demonstrating the association between microaggressions, and health/well-being in a sample of homeless youth.
Center for Social Innovation SPARC Initiative
SPARC is an initiative of the Center for Social Innovation in partnership with The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth. With support from the Oak Foundation and others, the SPARC team is launching a multi-city initiative to conduct qualitative and quantitative research, hold public discussions and forums, train providers and activists, and collaborate with leadership in systems of housing, health care, education, and criminal justice.
Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity
The Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity provides publications, resources, and programming that can aid as you look to advance racial equity through your foundation. The goal of the initiative is to "increase the amount and effectiveness of resources aimed at combating institutional and structural racism in communities through capacity building, education, and convening of grantmakers and grantseekers."
Unite4Equity is a Change Philanthropy campaign focused on promoting equity in philanthropy as an investment of social and financial resources in policies, practices, and actions that produce equitable access, power, and outcomes for all communities.
An accurate census count is essential to our efforts to prevent and end homelessness. The numbers from the 2020 Census will be used to determine funding and service levels for the next ten years. We know that along with individuals experiencing homelessness, racial minorities, immigrants, young people, and people in poverty are historically hard to count. The 2020 Census is already facing new challenges including budget constraints, online response, and scaled back door-to-door outreach and canvassing.
As a field, the homelessness sector has experience and expertise counting these individuals. As funders, we can support our grantees to help ensure a fair and accurate count. Additionally, funders across the country are coming together to support local planning, inform policy makers, and to educate nonprofits.
The links below are a culmination of resources provided by our partners and members. If you are interested in having additional conversations on how the 2020 Census will specifically impact our efforts, please reach out to Lauren Bennett at [email protected].
Upcoming Learning Opportunities
From Funders Together
Funders Together to End Homelessness, along with nearly thirty other philanthropy serving organizations (PSOs) and funders, contributed to an amicus curiae brief to contest the proposed citizenship question on the 2020 Census. The brief, submitted to the Supreme Court, provides concrete examples of how philanthropy relies on census data to support their missions, and, in turn, why the citizenship question is detrimental to efforts to effectively serve and invest in their communities.
In this webinar, we explored where current Census operations are, why philanthropy investing in housing and homelessness programs should care about the count, what some of the concerns and barriers are to counting people experiencing homelessness, and how funders can be an integral part in fair and accurate Census efforts in their community. We also heard from the Polk Bros. Foundation in Chicago on its role in the Illinois Count Me In 2020 campaign, how it supports efforts outside of funding, and the importance of bringing in funders from other sectors through mindful collaboration and coordination.
United State Census Bureau
- Area Census Offices for the 2020 Census
- 2020 Early Area Census Offices List
- Why Your Foundation Should Become a 2020 Census Partner
- How The Census Will Invite Everyone To Respond
From Our Partners
United Philanthropy Forum
- A Call for Philanthropy to Help Meet Unprecedented Challenges Facing the 2020 Census
- Census 2020: Why an Accurate Count Matters to Philanthropy
- A Critical Moment for the 2020 Census and Why Philanthropy Should Care
- Foundation Sign-on Letter: The Funders Census Initiative under the leadership of the Bauman Foundation circulated a sign-on letter for foundations.
Funders' Committee for Civic Participation
- Census 2020 Resources
- Participate. Convene. Invest. – A Call to Action for Philanthropy
- 7 Things Funders Can Do To Support Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA)
- Key 2020 Census Funder Milestones
- Census 2020 State Landscape Scan
- Citizenship Question Supreme Court Decision Day Funder Resource Guide
The Leadership Conference Education Fund
Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality
- Citizen Question Non-Response:A Demographic Profile of People Who Do Not Answer the American Community Survey Citizenship Question
- Counting People Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide to 2020 Census Operations
Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees
Brennan Center for Justice
- Where Things Stand in the Citizenship Question Lawsuits (Oct 12, 2018)
National Conference of State Legislatures
National Community Action Partnership
From Our Members
In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the destruction has been devastating and the complete impact of these storms remain to be seen. Those affected face a long road of uncertainty, especially those in poverty or already experiencing homelessness. Philanthropy can and should address the short-term needs to provide safety and protection for people in the path of these storms, but should also focus on a long-term response aimed at rebuilding in ways that address the needs of people with the lowest incomes and/or who are experiencing homelessness.
Below is a list of responses and resources by and for those involved in the work to end homelessness in response to this record-breaking storm.
In addition, Funders Together to End Homelessness is committed to sharing how we can support the identified needs of Texas and Florida and surrounding areas. We are currently working with our members local to the area and will provide timely updates and resources that can further aid in the development of both short and long term responses. Please check back and watch your email for more detail.
From Our Partners
Lessons Learned from Disaster Recovery
What does systems change to end homelessness look like? What is the funder's role in creating effective systems?Read more
While bringing together diverse stakeholders is a necessary step towards ending homelessness, it is not sufficient. Too often people convene to talk, learn best practices, and plan without making necessary changes in their own behavior. Too often they acknowledge that they know what should be done, but then fail to follow through because doing so may compromise immediate self-interests for funding, recognition, and feeling helpful.
Thinking and acting systemically are required to end homelessness.
At the community level, this involves:
- Engaging key stakeholders;
- Bridging the gap between reality and vision;
- Testing for a commitment to change; and
- Developing a shared vision.
At the national level, this involves:
- Educating funders and providers along the continuum of care about a systems approach;
- Convening stakeholders to mobilize a systems approach; and
- Running local demonstrations in communities and expanding community models.
How a Systems Approach Benefits Funders
Turbocharge Your Convening Power
Donors have a unique ability to engage stakeholders across the public, nonprofit, and private sectors. Bringing people together with a systems change lens creates a space for people to reconsider their immediate interests in service of the bigger picture. Systems thinking enables people to map the unintended consequences of actions, allows them to take responsibility for the problem, and empowers them to be a part of the solution in more effective ways. They become more motivated to and able to act in service of the whole instead of only their part—ultimately achieving greater impact.
Increase the Impact of Your Grantmaking
Funders faced with the philanthropic challenge of wanting to help people in both the short– and long-term often fail to recognize that quick fixes can hinder their ability to apply sustainable solutions. Because funders address chronic, complex problems, they must adopt a way of thinking to match. For example:
A problem’s symptoms and underlying causes are directly connected.
System performance is largely determined by interdependencies among system elements that are indirect, circular, and not always obvious.
A policy that achieves short-term success ensures long-term success.
The unintended and delayed consequences of most quick fixes neutralize or reverse immediate gains over time.
Most problems are caused by external factors beyond our control.
Because actions taken by one group often have delayed negative consequences on its own performance, as well as the behavior of others, each group unwittingly contributes to the very problem it tries to solve.
To improve the performance of the whole, we must improve the performance of its parts. Tackle many independent initiatives simultaneously to improve all of the parts.
To improve the performance of the whole, improve the relationships among the parts. Identify a few key interdependencies and shift them in a sustained, coordinated way over time.
Enhance Your Ability to Advocate for Effective Policies
Policymakers similarly confuse linear and systemic thinking. As a result, they can recommend policies that support quick fixes at the expense of long-term solutions. Funders can help education policymakers about a systems approach and thereby advocate for sustainable, system-wide solutions to complex problems like homelessness.
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Because homelessness has no single cause or solution, Funders Together to End Homelessness believes that:
- We must rethink the systems that have allowed homelessness to persist.
- We must support those who are calling for the integration of homelessness systems with other systems working to improve the lives of American families.
- We must improve collaborative efforts and strategic partnerships among philanthropy, government, business leaders, advocates, and service providers.
How We Get There
In order to end and prevent homelessness, we need adequate and affordable housing as well as appropriate income and employment opportunities.
Funders Together supports:
- Full and adequate funding for housing vouchers, public housing, and housing-related supportive services for vulnerable individuals and families
- Creation and funding of housing trust funds at national, regional, and local levels
- Use of federal funds to provide emergency housing assistance to those in need
- Creation of jobs for low income families that provide meaningful opportunities for work, skills development, and ultimately, career growth
- Creation of jobs for youth and young adults, especially those not in school
- Competitive grants to allow for the training of those who are unemployed
- Adequate childcare and transportation programs so low income parents can keep their jobs
- Strengthening the connections among federal assistance, job training, and homeless assistance programs
If you have any questions about these policy principles, please contact Anne Miskey.
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Employment opportunities are key to the prevention of, and successful transition out of, homelessness. Without a viable income many individuals, families and youth are unable to sustain housing over the long term. Therefore, funding programs that support employment services for vulnerable populations is an effective strategy for ending and reducing homelessness.
Strategies for Funders
- Fund strategies that are effective in connecting vulnerable and homeless job seekers with employment.
- Fund and promote transitional jobs, subsidized jobs, career ladder programs, appropriate alternative staffing programs, and social enterprise with built-in social supports for people with high barriers to employment.
- Fund pilot programs that bond and strengthen connections between employment and homelessness solutions.
- Fund and promote programs that place clients in jobs that meet their interests, not just jobs that are available.
- Look for opportunities to co-locate programs, connecting homeless providers with employment programs.
- Fund and promote the successful engagement of private sector employers in hiring homeless and formerly homeless people, publicizing promising-practices.
- Leverage the Workforce Investment Act, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and other government funding and collaborate work between the public and private sector.
- Promote the strategies employed by the Pathways Back to Work Act.
- Fund and promote opportunities that facilitate and convene workforce boards with local and state homeless officials to brainstorm how they can better work together.
- Facilitate workforce conferences to cross-pollinate ideas and share best-practices.