A 65-year-old veteran who has been living on the street for over a decade.
A family that is struggling after a recent job loss and only enough savings to last a month.
A gay teen who is no longer welcome at home after coming out to his family.
A mom and her child fleeing an abusive partner.
The reasons people become homeless are highly individualized. But most are related to a loss of income, housing, health, safety, or key support systems. Our funding directly addresses these interrelated root causes, with a longstanding commitment to housing as key foundation for dealing with all other issues.
We believe that to effectively meet the needs of thousands of individuals and families experiencing homelessness, each with their own set of strengths and challenges, we need to take a “systems approach” to ensure care is coordinated and each person gets the right response at the right time. Because we know that many people become homeless after living in foster care or being released from jail, we also need to work with systems like child welfare and criminal justice to prevent people from becoming homeless.
A Focus on Systems Change
Too often responses to homelessness have focused on the immediate crisis at hand: lack of shelter, food, or safety. While crisis care is vitally important, what happens over the following weeks and months is critical to preventing a person or family from remaining homeless or ending up homeless again.
Addressing root causes is challenging, and there isn’t always a clear roadmap. We are willing and able to take the long view and learn what is working well and from what is less successful. Based on evidence and our own experience over the past 25 years, we believe that ending homelessness requires:
- a commitment and willingness for all of us to rethink how we do our work, collaborate, and learn together in new ways
- organizations to cross traditional boundaries and individuals to change and expand their roles and relationships
- the support and engagement of influential leaders who believe homelessness can be ended and can communicate a vision for doing so
This is our framework for funding “systems change.”
Our focus on systems change is the reason that we don’t, by and large, fund individual programs or independent activities. Instead, we partner with advocates, providers, researchers, and policymakers to fund efforts to address the fundamental systemic social problems that are the root causes of homelessness.
We invest in approaches that focus on strengthening relationships between people and between organizations, improving ways of working together, cultivating civic and political will, and building the leadership needed to make change happen.
How does a system change funding approach look on the ground?
We target funding opportunities that:
Build the Capacity of Service Providers
Our funding strengthens the capacity of housing and service providers to design and deliver effective practices, collaborate, and track and assess performance.
Learn more about the Medicaid Institute for Supportive Housing Agencies
Transform Public and Private Systems
We seek to transform public and private systems, helping them to implement effective policies and programs, collaborate within and across agencies, track outcomes, and evaluate their performance.
Learn more about Secure Jobs Connecticut
Increase Civic and Political Will & Investment
We support efforts that increase civic and political support for strategies that expand effective practices, and encourage public and private investment in these proven programs and promising practices.
See the in-depth reporting on housing and homelessness from NPR and WNPR
Build Leadership in the Field
We provide support to leaders with vision and build leadership in the field by supporting “backbone” organizations that work across sectors, leading initiatives, guiding strategy, aligning activities, measuring progress, and streamlining collaboration.
Learn more about the Partnership for Strong Communities and the Reaching Home Campaign
When evaluating requests for funding, we consider these questions:
- Impact: Will this work have a clear impact on ending homelessness or provide opportunities to test a promising model? Are these anticipated results clearly described?
- Priorities: Will it address one of more of our program areas: Housing, Health and Support or Income
- Geography: Will our investment support important work in Connecticut or policy or advocacy at the national level
- Systems Change: Will our investment change the way people and organizations currently do business? Will it move systems by enlisting partners and pushing policies, perceptions, and practices toward effective solutions rather than advancing individual and independent activities?
- Add Value/Replicable: Will it fill an important gap in our approach to homelessness or teach us something that will be useful to others working to end homelessness?
- Person-focused: Is the investment consistent with the values of autonomy, opportunity, and resilience? Will the project ensure that the person/family served is at the center of all strategies and is entrusted to make their own decisions, or strengthen their ability to bounce back from crisis? Read more about our values
- Leadership: Does the organization have the capacity to deliver results? Do they have a strong record of performance, sound management, and a strong focus on outcomes? For collaborative efforts, we are looking for a talented organization to provide leadership, coordination, and support to the effort.
- Leverage: Does the project leverage the work or funding of others?