Dear Friends and Allies,
It’s fashionable and easy to talk about what’s broken, not working. It’s easier to raise funds if we talk about people as broken, in need of our fixing. It’s easier to garner sympathy if we talk about how awful everything is.
And to be sure, there is a lot out there that is awful and broken. But people aren’t broken, and the communities written off as beyond help and hope are complicated places where people and hope defy the pundits and expectations others foist on them.
It’s vital and far harder to hold the reality that, for all our collective challenges and failings, there are still things that work. Things that help; things that heal. Since our inception, FFI has been committed to learning from what works, what goes well. This priority is the genesis of the Full Frame Approach—drawn from and with amazing programs working far better than most—and of the Five Domains of Wellbeing framework, derived from the impact of those programs and from research on the drivers of behavior that lead to health and hope.
This commitment to learning from what works drives our projects and our programs, too. Our new toolkit for philanthropy, highlighted in this newsletter, draws examples and recommendations from both nonprofits and philanthropy about what works in supporting lasting community transformation. Our Learning from What Goes Well Institute, also highlighted here, is helping extraordinary community activists and leaders in California mine their experiences, their communities and their relationships for what’s already working, making that their foundation for systems change.
If you have insights about what's working in your community that may be flying under the radar, or have connections to other initiatives that are based on learning from what's going well, we'd love to hear and learn from you.
Katya Fels Smyth
and the FFI Team
- Katya and the FFI Team
Spotlight on Partners & Projects
What Goes Well convening explored tools for addressing violence
The Learning from What Goes Well collaboration held its first convening in Los Angeles at the end of January. Over two and a half days, 25 participants learned about and explored the use of methodologies such as community asset mapping, Success Moment Reflection workshops, and the Positive Deviance approach in their efforts to change systems and improve the quality of supports for people experiencing domestic violence and other forms of violence and oppression. Other topics included identifying community leaders and natural supports and building productive teams. Cross-sector sharing and learning was evident, and participants sustained a high level of enthusiasm and engagement--a great foundation for a vibrant learning community! Participants came from Alliance for Community Transformations, California Hmong Advocates Network, Community Doula Project, the Full Frame Initiative, Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse, Peace Pros LA, the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, and ally and partner in the work Cristy Chung, formerly of the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. We'd also like to share a special thank you to Monique Sternin of Tufts
University for sharing her expertise and experience on Positive Deviance during a post-convening conversation with project partners. Monique co-developed and implemented the Positive Deviance approach over the last two decades, providing a powerful tool for communities to improve the lives of thousands of women and children internationally by identifying problem-solving behaviors and strategies that already exist among some community members and helping others to use them.
Making the Case and Spreading the Word
New toolkit for funders released in collaboration with FFI and partners
In February, FFI released SHIFT: FROM SHORT-TERM CHANGE TO LASTING WELLBEING THROUGH THE FULL FRAME APPROACH A toolkit to help the philanthropic community support transformative practice
. This toolkit was developed for the philanthropic community and other stakeholders interested in supporting long-term, sustainable change for people living at the intersection of poverty, violence, trauma and oppression. FFI created this resource through a collaborative effort with our partners in philanthropy and with four exemplary community-based nonprofit organizations in Greater Boston—Julie’s Family Learning Program
(South Boston), On The Rise
(Cambridge), REACH Beyond Domestic Violence
(Waltham) and The Salasin Center of Western Massachusetts Training Consortium
(Greenfield). The toolkit helps funders identify programs using the Full Frame Approach and includes tools and actionable steps for supporting lasting wellbeing. Download the toolkit
and share this valuable resource with your colleagues!
Wellbeing work featured by national juvenile and family court organization
The Winter 2016 issue of Synergy
, the newsletter of the National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Child Protection and Custody features FFI and our partners. The issue profiles the Missouri Children’s Division’s use of the Five Domains of Wellbeing as the foundation of the state’s child welfare system reform effort; features the findings of FFI’s three-year project in California to document how different stakeholders understand success for survivors of domestic violence; and includes commentary from Katya Smyth about the power of orienting systems around wellbeing, and in seeing people in the full frame of their lives.
In conjunction with the newsletter, Tim Decker, Director of Missouri Children’s Division and Katya Fels Smyth will be presenting a webinar on Wellbeing, the Missing Piece of the Safety & Permanency Puzzle: A Different Approach from Missouri Children’s Division
on May 18th from 12-1:30pm PT/ 3-4:30pm ET
. Registration information will be available soon, but mark your calendars now!
Thank you to the amazing partners and allies who have invited FFI to present and train on its wellbeing work in the last few months: Northeastern University School of Law's Domestic Violence Institute
, Missouri State Foster Care and Adoption Board
, and the city and county court staff of St. Louis, Missouri
Our Team News
FFI is pleased to welcome two new team members: Cheryl Vines
as the Partner Training and Engagement Senior Manager, Child Welfare Systems
and La Tonya Green
as the Director of Evidence and Knowledge
Cheryl is a respected and awarded leader in the fields of nonprofit management, family services and child welfare systems. She comes to FFI with nearly three decades of experience developing, implementing and scaling effective programming and services to support building the strengths and self-sufficiency of families living in poverty who are often marginalized. Cheryl is responsible for developing and managing partnerships with public child welfare systems seeking to orient their work around FFI’s Five Domains of Wellbeing framework.
La Tonya has over eighteen years of experience working within the nonprofit, public and private sectors in management, research and evaluation, organizational assessment and development, strategy, planning, capacity-building and technical assistance. As FFI’s Director of Evidence and Knowledge, she is responsible for generating knowledge and evidence about the applicability and effectiveness of the Full Frame Approach and the Five Domains of Wellbeing. In addition, she is charged with understanding and using data to continuously improve, deepen and expand FFI’s impact.
The team gathered together at Angels Rest and Retreat in Leyden, MA this month for its annual retreat. The retreat center is restorative and centering and offered the team a chance to slow down and refocus. This time together allowed everyone to prioritize developing a strong, cohesive team and organizational culture that embraces different work styles and personalities, and sees each of us as whole people.
FFI is on the hunt for a new team of committed, motivated interns to support project needs, including graduate-level research, project support and administrative support (see sidebar for more information). Learn more about these opportunities
and share with your networks!
Thank you to all our generous donors who helped us reach our 2015 end-of-year fundraising goals! Your contributions will support our growing work across the country, developing partnerships and helping to deepen our impact.