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

The Brief Opportunity: Now Is the Time To Effect Change


Funders Together CEO, Amanda Andere, reflects on the mission and work of philanthropy in this post-election phase and what it means to move forward as a collective group as we all work to prevent and end homelessness under a new administration.

My parents are both immigrants to this country. So am I. Becoming a naturalized citizen was never taken for granted and I was told to vote like my life depended on it. I’ve spent the last nine years as a Deacon of a predominantly African-American church. Weekly, I heard the stories from members of my congregation whose relatives had died for my freedom. They, too, had the physically and emotionally battle wounds to remind me how precious the ability to participate in our democracy is to so many Americans. Every sermon, service project, day of action, and call to justice in that church was a reminder that voting is just the beginning of ensuring a more just and caring community.

I grew up in bi-partisan family that was filled with fierce debates that would make even the most skilled political pundit astounded. Every election brought about varying levels of disappointment, but also the opportunity to focus on our values. My family inspired me to work for and with others in need because coming to this country, even from an upper-middle class background, they had to rely on strangers. They received helped from unlikely people and taught me that no one can make it on their own.

We must help others, and not just pay it forward, but make it better for those that come behind us. This is the work of change, that goes beyond charity. This is the work of philanthropy and the vision of members of Funders Together to End Homelessness as a collective group. These values, the very ones that led me to a life of social change, are also the values that bridge divides and the spirit in which I reflect on our work with the next presidential administration.

These values bring philanthropy to the work of preventing and ending homelessness. I know these values are bi-partisan just like the work of ending homelessness has and will continue to be. I also know America can’t be great, nor can we be stronger together when children sleep on our streets, families live in cars, our Veterans are moved from shelter to shelter, and individuals who experience mental and chronic physical illness are living a life on the streets, instead of a life with access to care and recovery.

While the work under the next administration might look different, or feel uncertain, the goal does not change. We are committed with our members to march forward to advance the movement to prevent and end homelessness. We will continue philanthropy’s role to spur innovation and take best practices to scale, all while pushing for public-private partnerships, because we know philanthropy cannot end homelessness alone.

We will stay the course on systems change and look at ways to increase resources to build the capacity for advocacy and coalition building. This is not the time to retreat to our single issue. Philanthropy and the nonprofit sector have made incredible progress on being intersectional. We know that ending homelessness is linked to improving education outcomes and that the social determinants of health are linked to permanent housing. So, as we encourage grantees to work together, so must our work continue to build partnerships with other philanthropy networks and unlikely partners.

We will maintain our commitment to addressing racial inequity. As I announced recently, this will be a long-term journey for Funders Together and the movement to end homelessness. We cannot be distracted from this important work, because the ability to address all inequities will get us to our goals of housing stability for so many in need who face a history of structural inequality preventing them from opportunity.

We will expand on what it means to be bold in our grantmaking. This means taking risk and understanding that we are often program rich and systems poor. The new administration will be seeking change and innovation in government. Real change comes when philanthropy works with partners to uncover the uncomfortable truths of what is not working, as well as stand behind the interventions that, while slow, are proving to get to the goal of ending homelessness.   

As one of our board members said to me recently, while we want homelessness to be rare, brief, and one-time, we must recognize the opportunity to impact change is also rare and the work and progress we’ve made on ending homelessness is not tied to any one administration. It is the work of people in community in partnership with the public sector. The investments philanthropy has made in best practices, research, and advocacy have given us clear evidence that the strategies are working, progress is being made on reducing homelessness, and the way forward to ending it requires tenacious leadership. The path forward for my parents in a foreign land wasn’t always clear. The road for my fellow congregants during the civil rights movement was and still is blocked with obstacles. But they never gave up, and that is why I am here. That is why we are all here: to be part of a movement for change that is bigger than ourselves, especially in uncertain and unclear times. 

We will be hosting a Funders Together Member Post-Election call on December 20th at 12:30 p.m. ET. During this open conversation, we will discuss the upcoming transition, where our members want to focus efforts, and what is needed to move forward with the new Administration. We encourage all members to attend or provide your thoughts on the transition and what our priorities should be when working with the Administration. 

RSVP for the call here.

Showing 1 reaction

  • Maggie Osborn
    commented 2017-01-25 15:48:48 -0500
    Brilliantly and movingly said. The work does not change from administration to administration or within the frame of foundation’s propensity to seek the new rather than continue the steady work required. All of our work begins in the voting booth as the root of democracy and then sends us out into our communities to do the work of our world. Thank you for your important work.

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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