Dear Friends and Allies,
Nonprofit organizations are rewarded for claiming sole credit for things in which we’ve played an important (but not sole) part. We changed this system! We got this many homeless people housed!
We are also incentivized to talk about the places we go, the people we work with, and the partners we take on as “broken” and “lost without us,” and we are the “fixer.”
But just as the wicked problems of the world weren’t created by one agency, one person, or even one “root cause,” the real work of changing things for the better happens in combinations, relationships, partnerships. The irony is true partnership is much harder than being the sole fixer. It’s messy and not the linear work of logic models and granularly laid-out five-year strategic plans. It’s also fun, invigorating, challenging, humbling.
Here are five things (among many) I’ve learned about successful partnerships, that we try to keep top of mind here at FFI:
- A deeply held shared vision is important. Agreeing on everything isn’t.
- Forgive my partners when they mess up, because next week it might be me needing forgiveness.
- Invest in the relationships as well as in the work.
- Plan, but don’t plan so much that the vision curdles. And besides, no plan survives contact with reality, so don’t let the plan be precious.
- If I emerge without having changed my mind about something or learned something, it wasn’t partnership. It probably was arm twisting.
So, without further ado, go ahead and dive in to read more about the incredible work happening with and through FFI’s partnerships.
- Katya and the FFI Team
Spotlight on Partners & Projects
Partnership with Missouri Division of Youth Services attracts national attention
Missouri Division of Youth Services (MO DYS) continues to lead the country in effective approaches in juvenile justice, and FFI continues to be a proud partner in this effort. DYS aligns their practices and policies with a focus on wellbeing and long-term success, with the Five Domains of Wellbeing taking root at all levels of the agency in concert with the agency’s strengths-based, family-centered and trauma-informed emphases. In the fall, MO DYS and FFI brought together nearly 200 staff members from all five regions of the state and a variety of roles within the juvenile justice system to build their capacity to use the Five Domains of Wellbeing in a counseling context, and to help youth and families think about their own decisions and options through the framework.
National interest in this partnership—and its impact on youth and families—is rising rapidly. In December 2014, Phyllis Becker, Acting Director of Missouri DYS, and FFI co-presented a national webinar as part of the US Department of Justice’s Defending Childhood Initiative on the impact of the Five Domains of Wellbeing in working with adolescents, and particularly in a juvenile justice context. Over 330 people from across the country representing a range of fields (including juvenile justice, education, medicine and law enforcement) attended the live webinar and many more are viewing the recorded slides and audio. The webinar can be viewed here
This year, we are looking forward to helping to build the capacity of MO DYS to independently conduct trainings on the Five Domains of Wellbeing for its staff.
MA Task Force moving full tilt to improve systems for homeless violence survivors
The Massachusetts Integration Task Force (ITF)
—a group of four state agencies, three statewide coalitions of service providers and FFI—is charging ahead in carrying out its mandate to improve how the state responds to survivors of sexual or domestic violence who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness.The ITF’s work is showing how making systems more effective and efficient can also make them more humane. And wellbeing is at the center. Highlights of the last few months include working with 13 nonprofits across the state to inform how the Commonwealth defines and pays for “Community Services,” to training supervisors and managers from 11 state agencies on applying the Five Domains of Wellbeing, to supporting efforts to bring what research tells us about the connection between homelessness and trauma into the day to day realities of practice and policy. Through the ITF partnership, FFI is supporting systems change that will impact thousands of families across the state.
Capturing a "Full Frame" Moment
Where nothing is too big, or too small, to be celebrated
Julie’s Family Learning Program is a long-standing member of FFI’s Greater Boston Full Frame Network. FFI’s Network Engagement Manager Leora Rifkin recently wrote a blog post after a site visit to Julie’s in South Boston to learn more about how their Full Frame practice looks on the ground. Check it out
and learn more about Julie’s great work with families!
Seeking change partners!
At the recommendation of filmmaker Tracy Droz Tragos (producer and director of RICH HILL), FFI has been awarded a grant from the Fledgling Fund to bring the Community Conversation format, created in Missouri with our partners at the Children’s Division, to another state or locality. We are looking for a partner public agency early on in a family-focused change effort, where there is a desire to start a cross-sector conversation about changing education, child welfare, juvenile justice or a related field. Remember, we have the funding—what we need is a philosophically aligned new partner. Want to learn more? Potentially interested in the Community Conversations coming to your city or state? Please contact Janna Walters-Gidseg
for more information.
Making the Case and Spreading the Word
We are so grateful to the many individuals and organizations who are partners in change with us. This includes the organizations that invite FFI to speak, present and discuss how a focus on wellbeing can unleash the potential of even more people and communities around the country. Much of our “spreading the word” this past quarter was activity related to the release of our action-oriented report How Do Survivors Define Success?
The interest is in the findings, yes, but more importantly many stakeholders want to begin talking about and acting on how the field can better align systems and programs with how survivors define success. We thank our allies at Transforming Communities: Technical Assistance, Training, and Resource Center
, Futures Without Violence
, Battered Women’s Justice Project
Texas Council on Family Justice
, National Latin@ Network
/Casa de Esperanza
and National Indigenous Women’s Resource Network
for hosting us!
Want to catch up with us? Anna Melbin
will be at the following upcoming events:
Futures Without Violence National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence
National Family Justice Center Alliance Conference
Our Team News
New faces, more changes
We are thrilled to announce that Kaile Shilling
, Executive Director of the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles
(VPC), has been elected to the FFI Board of Directors. VPC is a network of over 150 member organizations that promotes safer, more equitable communities through a prevention-based public health approach to violence. Current focus areas include re-entry/reintegration from incarceration (including juvenile justice issues); gang violence prevention and intervention; community-school partnerships; art for incarcerated youth; youth development; gun safety; and domestic/interpersonal violence. Kaile’s many skills include cross-sector collaboration, communication and coalition building, creative solution-finding, policy advocacy, and deep understanding of public health framing as applied to youth violence prevention. Prior to joining VPC, Kaile served as Associate Director of Development for Homeboy Industries. Welcome Kaile!
Last month FFI also bade a fond farewell to outgoing Board member Jonathan Zaff
. Jon, who is Senior Vice President of Research & Policy Development for America's Promise Alliance and the Director of the Center for Promise, served on the Board since 2011. We are most grateful for his time with us—thank you, Jon!
, most recently FFI’s Director of Community Engagement & Evaluation, has moved into a new role with FFI as our Senior Fellow, Community Engagement. This is allowing Audrey to focus on developing additional approaches to partnering with communities so that we can further our collective understanding of the Five Domains of Wellbeing. She is exploring ways to "translate" and document how the Five Domains of Wellbeing are understood by people and communities with lived experience with poverty, violence and trauma. Audrey, who is an anchor of FFI’s west coast presence, can be reached via email
if you want to learn more about her project or share some ideas.
, a junior at Simmons College, is interning at FFI on our Massachusetts and Missouri projects for the semester. She is a sociology major with a strong interest in policy, social change and coalition work. Lyra has previously interned at the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, with a focus on grant writing and the Youth Empowerment Project, and with Nuestra Comunidad Community Development Corporation. A writer and poet, Lyra is also fluent in Tagalog and has conversational Spanish skills. Welcome, Lyra!
, a senior at Colby College, joined FFI as a full-time Communications Intern for the month of January. Katherine is double majoring in English and Spanish and previously interned with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources in the Marketing and Outreach Division. During her short time at FFI, Katherine researched and wrote a report and conducted a user survey to support a website redesign project, and filled in on many other tasks related to FFI communications platforms. Thank you, Katherine!
Thank you to all our generous donors
who responded to our call to action in this year’s Annual Appeal. Because of your support we exceeded our fundraising goal!
By investing in our work you are investing in change, and your gift better enables us to expand our reach in 2015 to more people and more communities living at the intersection of poverty, violence and trauma.