Who gets to frame the issue in systems addressing poverty, violence and trauma?


Why Full Frame?

Full frame is a term from documentary filmmaking: to truly show a character, a film cannot just focus on the individual; rather, the filmmaker must pull the lens all the way back and fill the frame with the environment, the relationships, the events, and the interactions that define and are defined by the character. Full Frame Programs go beyond being holistic, to work with environment and people—and to support change in both.

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Just the Facts

The long-awaited, much-demanded, Five Domains of Wellbeing Fact Sheets are here! They’ll be joined by annotated bibliographies and more tools-- stay tuned.

Systems Change can be defined as...

The process of altering or transforming how people and structures are linked, function and influence one another.
- North Penn Community Health Foundation

Summer 2013
Dear Allies and Friends,

2013 has been quite a year, inside and outside of FFI. National and world events remind us of the power of framing-- power and promise lies in deciding what the story is that connects the dots of data or history. How an issue is framed has everything to do with how it will be addressed. So who gets to frame the issue in systems addressing poverty, violence and trauma? Who gets to decide what facts matter and to make the determination of what’s to be done? Even the best-intended systems that include “consumer”/ participant/ member/ community voices in some manner generally ask for input about how the system is working after the issue has been defined.

Big mistake. FFI’s work demonstrates that taking the time to reframe an issue opens up a whole new set of possibilities and solutions.  We, collectively, can and must do better to include-- authentically, and from the get-go-- the voices of those who are living their lives dominated by systems.

FFI’s incredible progress over the last few months is due in no small part to our partners, allies and funders who have been willing to step back and take a different “full frame” look with us at seemingly intractable social issues. We’ve pulled together a few examples of this progress, and we look forward to hearing your reactions.

If you have insights to share about “framing”, examples of extraordinary community-based work, questions or feedback for us, we want to know. Thanks for your interest in and support of FFI.

-Katya and the growing FFI team

Spotlight on Partners and Projects


Huge systems have been set up with an implicit assumption that success for a survivor of domestic violence has, at its core, moving beyond the violent relationship.  It’s an assumption that leads to a framing that needs to be tested, so we set out to test it in a large, diverse state: California. We have been overwhelmed by the positive response to the Integrated Responses to Domestic Violence in California project, the goal of which is to uncover and document various stakeholders' (domestic violence survivors, service providers, funders, and policy makers) frameworks for survivor success and identify opportunities for strengthening system response so that survivors get the supports and services they need to heal and thrive on their own terms. We are grateful to the people who are willing to share their stories and time with us, to the numerous organizations and individuals who are partnering with us on this project in various ways, and to the project funder, the Blue Shield of California Foundation.

To-date, we have conducted over 25 workshops with survivors and practitioners throughout California. In order to increase the linguistic and cultural inclusiveness of this project, FFI is has launched a Language and Cultural Access Pilot which will build the capacity of community change agents to run survivor workshops in their own communities and/or to participate as interpreters in the process. Ultimately, our goal is for the participants to help bring the voices of multiply marginalized survivors into the project, and to bring the project back to their communities.

Making the Case and Spreading the Word

The hot topic of Systems Change

As our systems change work has really taken hold, we’ve taken a step back to document what we’ve learned about systems change from Missouri, California and other state projects. No big surprise-- it turns out FFI has a somewhat different, fuller frame on it all, focusing on relationships, leverage and context. We’d like to acknowledge and appreciate those partners who are really asking some important hard questions about what systems change is and how nonprofits, government, private philanthropy and constituents can explore this big question of “how can we do better by, with and for the people most impacted by the systems we’re concerned with?”  

North Penn Community Health Foundation has recently embraced systems change as an explicit part of their strategic plan and grantmaking strategy to address health care, housing and food security in Montgomery County, PA. FFI was excited to help launch this new strategy, delivering a three-part series on systems change for the North Penn Community Health Foundation Academy. Over 60 participants from nonprofits and county government wrestled with and applied systems change concepts to their local safety net. Following the final session, the Delaware Valley Grantmakers hosted a breakfast discussion around systems change in the region, and the ways it could be supported by local foundations.

FFI founder Katya Smyth gave a sold-out keynote address, “Changing Systems in a Changing World," to the Human Service Forum of Western Massachusetts and moderated a panel, “The Big Picture: Engaging in Systems Change,” at the Northeastern Students4Giving 2013 Social Impact Conference, presented in partnership with Associated Grant Makers and the Learning by Giving Foundation.

In late spring, a group of Boston-area funders met with FFI to learn about our approach to systems change and to discuss philanthropy’s role. Participants included representatives from: Cabot Family Charitable Trust, Citizens Bank, The Boston Foundation, Highland Street Foundation, Bank of New York Mellon Corporation Boston, The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation, and the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Foundation. We would like to thank Gioia Perugini, Associate Director, Family Office and Philanthropy Services, at Hemenway and Barnes, and Mari Brennan Barrera, FFI Board member and staff member of a Boston area philanthropy, for hosting the conversation.  

Also in May, FFI convened six extraordinary greater Boston organizations which are committed to finding innovative ways to address poverty and violence and are effective in helping deeply marginalized people and communities make long-term change. Participants included Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, Inc., On the Rise, Julie’s Family Learning Program, Hyde Square Task Force, and Youth on Fire. The group explored forming a Greater Boston Full Frame Network to more fully understand what Full Frame practice looks like on the ground, and to develop a shared practice and advocacy agenda around FFI’s Full Frame Approach and Five Domains of Wellbeing. What’s in common and remarkable about these two Boston meetings is the commitment to looking at new ways to move the needle on poverty and violence in the city.

We get around!

Our staff continues to present at meetings and conferences around the country on systems change, the Five Domains of Wellbeing, and many other topics related to the intersection of poverty, violence and trauma. Thank you to the hosts of some of our recent engagements: the Human Service Forum, Boston University School of Public Health, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV), National Alliance to End Homelessness, North Penn Community Health  Foundation, Proteus Fund, and University of WA Law School.  For information about hosting a speaker from FFI, please contact Frances Welson.

FFI News

More voices, new faces

Two words-- we’re growing! As we continue to focus on framing, data matters, and so does voice and constituent power.  A new dynamic duo-- our now full-time Research Associate, Claudia Miranda-Julian and our new Director of Community Engagement and Evaluation, Audrey Jordan-- are bringing this to fruition.  This summer, our super-helpful interns, Anna Cole Crosbie and Ameara Harb, are keeping our office full and the work rolling. More information about our new and less new staff members, and how to contact them, can be found here. If you would like to intern with or volunteer for FFI, please let us know.  And keep checking our website for the announcement of more new positions!

What's Made Us Think

Instead of taking a look back at what we've seen or read recently, we’d like to share picks from our Summer Reading List with you. We eagerly await digging into these, anticipating they will “make us think” (since the promotional blurbs already have!) What’s on your summer reading list? Tell us!

The American Non Dilemma: Racial Inequality without Racism by Nancy Ditomaso

I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters by Bayard Rustin

Living and Dying in Brick City by Sampson Davis

Thank You

Change isn’t free.  FFI’s funding comes from private philanthropy and earned income. We are deeply grateful to all our new and renewing supporters for the first part of the year. Your support fuels FFI’s growth and impact!

Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Bernie and Lyla Olshan, Beth Nagy, Carolyn Corrie and Robert Tannen, Claneil Foundation, Clare Pearson and David Specht, Elizabeth Ghoniem, Esther Schlorholtz, Family and Community Trust, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Friendship Home of Lincoln, Inc., GE Foundation, Herbert S. Wagner III and Charlotte R. Cramer Wagner, Hicks Family Charitable Foundation, Jane B. Cook 1992 Charitable Trust, Janet and Jeffrey Larson, John Finley and Stan McGee, Jon Zaff, Martha Otis, McNicols & Tombs LLP, Michael and Connie Woolcock, Miki Akimoto, Miriam Goldberg in memory of Margaret Fulton Fels, Nan Stone, North Penn Community Heath Foundation, Rupa and Bharat Bhatt, Sand Dollar Fund, Sunrise Fund, The Boston Foundation, William Perkins.


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