Dear Friends and Allies,
For most of my life, I’ve been trying to learn from my mistakes—personal, professional, organizational. It can be a valuable thing—and lots of systems do it. Something bad happened? Pick it apart so you can prevent it from happening again. It makes sense—it’s the basis for critical incident reports, fatality reviews and most of the debriefings of events, big and small, many of us are part of.
But it’s really, really insufficient. When we only learn from what goes poorly, we’re leaving half the lessons we could be learning from our work and our interactions “on the table.” Because what few of us have been taught to do is to engage in the same kind of deconstruction and meaning-making and planning for the future when we hit a home run.
It’s our collective job to understand and help a frustrated mother know what she did differently on the day she was able to discipline her children without hitting them; to work with a community to understand what’s different in the lives of the small number of people who are able to escape methamphetamine addiction for good. It’s the basis of a school of thought called positive deviance and it’s a core premise of FFI’s Success Moment Workshop Process—learning from what goes well has implications that can and should pervade all of our collective work.
At FFI, we’re doubling down on our internal and external efforts to be systematic in our discussions, our attention and our processes to document what works, not just what doesn’t. We now know that learning from what goes well (as well as from our mistakes) can help fight burnout among frontline workers, help identify new possibilities and opportunities for systems change and engage allies across fields.
FFI’s just-launched Learning from What Goes Well Institute in California is the flagship project in these efforts, but it’s playing out in each of the projects we’re highlighting here.
If you have ways you are learning from what goes well, or want to partner with us in this work, please allow us to learn from what’s working for you—please reach out to me
, or to Anna Melbin
. We’d love to get to know you and your work.
- Katya and the FFI Team
Spotlight on Partners & Projects
FFI and partners embark on new project to "Learn from What Goes Well"
The Full Frame Initiative and five extraordinary project partners are proud to announce the launch of Learning from What Goes Well: A capacity building collaboration to support communities experiencing violence and oppression
. Learning from What Goes Well springs from a recommendation made in FFI's report How Do Survivors Define Success?
The report put forth findings indicating that focusing on what goes well, identifying and building upon existing community- and family-level assets and collaborating across fields are strategies that would make systems more survivor-centered and, ultimately, more effective. Our What Goes Well project partners are Alliance for Community Transformations
, Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence
, Empower Yolo
, Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse
, and Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles
. Together, we are embarking on a 15-month initiative to build the capacity of three communities in California to to apply new strengths-based approaches and tools as part of efforts to change systems in ways that will increase access to or the quality of supports for domestic violence survivors who face other forms of violence or oppression.
This project is made possible by a grant from Blue Shield of California Foundation. In support of this project, FFI is looking for a California-based What Goes Well Project Manager. Please read and share the position description
with your networks! For more information about this project, contact Anna Melbin
Greater Boston Full Frame Network members celebrate highlights and achievements
There has been so much going on with our Greater Boston Full Frame Network members this spring, including milestone anniversaries and exciting funding opportunities.
On The Rise
just celebrated 20 years! Their 20th Anniversary Celebration kicked off a $700,000 capacity-building campaign for Keep the Keys, their programming for housed women. Julie's Family Learning Program
celebrated 40 years of service! Bob Monahan
, Julie's Family Learning Program's Executive Director, reported that they sold out their first ever fundraiser honoring their founders. They also were able to raise $200,000, which was then was matched with $100,000! Western Massachusetts Training Consortium
is also celebrating its 40th anniversary, and its Salasin Project
is going into its tenth year. In addition, both On The Rise and REACH
received Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants. REACH will be using it to expand their bilingual community advocacy program and On The Rise got a substantial increase and will use it to expand their bilingual services. For more information about the Greater Boston Full Frame Network, contact Leora Rifkin
Missouri Division of Youth Services continues to explore ways of integrating the Five Domains of Wellbeing at all levels
Our long term partner, Missouri Division of Youth Services (DYS) is charging full steam ahead in really shifting toward a wellbeing focus combined with trauma-informed care and positive youth development at all levels—frontline, program and policy. DYS serves as an innovative example for juvenile justice systems across the nation in how using this orientation not only results in successful transition for youth, but also sets youth on a path of sustainable change.
Together with DYS, we are exploring ways of integrating the Five Domains of Wellbeing across DYS trainings with trauma-informed care and positive youth development, rather than as a stand-alone concept, to further align the systems perspective and orientation toward wellbeing. FFI is working to build the capacity of key DYS staff to develop and deliver their own Five Domains of Wellbeing trainings and to independently present at conferences on the framework.
We are excited about the possibilities ahead both for the youth and families at DYS, and also for highlighting the effective work of DYS to engage other systems in focusing on wellbeing. For more information about this project, contact Lotus Yu.
Capturing a #FullFrameMoment
The Relationship was the ultimate outcome
Full Frame organizations value the relationships they develop with their program participants, seeing them as whole people and not as their problems. In her latest blog post, FFI’s Network Engagement Manager Leora Rifkin
explores what it means for Greater Boston Full Frame Network member The Salasin Project to focus on wellbeing. Read it here
and learn more about how The Salasin Project implements Full Frame practice on the ground!
Making the Case and Spreading the Word
On March 19-21, Anna Melbin
presented and exhibited at the National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence hosted by Futures Without Violence
, highlighting the project in California and culminating report How Do Survivors Define Success? A New Project to Address an Overlooked Question
. The theme for our exhibitor table, taken from one of the findings of the report, was
Success Through Connection, Not Separation and emphasized the importance that survivors of domestic violence place on connection to friends and family. We encouraged everyone to take a #ConnectionSelfie with our picture frame and send it to someone they are connected to.
Associated Grant Makers
(AGM) hosted a panel presentation in Boston on March 31 to provide a forum for their members to learn more about FFI’s Five Domains of Wellbeing and how it is being used by community-based organizations and state agencies to achieve stronger outcomes for people, families and communities facing multiple challenges. Panelists included FFI’s Katya Fels Smyth
; Kathy McHugh
, Cabot Family Charitable Trust; Ayala Livny
, Independent Consultant; Deborah Heimel
, Director of Operations for REACH Beyond Domestic Violence; and Tammy Mello
, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Governor's Council to Address Sexual and Domestic Violence. Mari Brennan Barrera
, Barrera Consulting and chair of the AGM board, facilitated a robust Q&A. Attendees were highly engaged in the content and began to reflect on ways the Five Domains of Wellbeing could support grant making goals, as well as ways that grant makers might support programs that are spearheading powerful change via use of this wellbeing framework.
On May 28, Katya Fels Smyth
presented at the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association
2015 Educational Conference in St Louis. She gave a plenary entitled The Five Domains of Wellbeing: Helping Youth (and Adults) Make Change that Lasts. Carla Gilzow
, Quality Assurance Unit Manager at Missouri Children's Division, and Katya co-facilitated two workshops at the conference: one that introduced how the Five Domains of Wellbeing framework can identify strengths and assets that traditional screenings and assessments miss, and a double workshop that adapted our Community Conversations to highlight how a wellbeing-focused approach supports work with children and families.
Thank you to the other amazing organizations who have invited us to present at conferences and host trainings: Simmons College School of Social Work
, Empower Yolo
, Alliance for Community Transformations
, Family Justice Center Alliance, Community Teamwork, Inc
and Boston Area Rape Crisis Center
How Do Survivors Define Success report generates huge interest and response
FFI’s How Do Survivors Define Success? A New Project to Address an Overlooked Question
has been received as an important and influential contribution to the domestic violence field, challenging long-held assumptions about what survivors want and need. Since the report’s release, it has reached over 10,000 people through partner networks, was viewed and shared by thousands of people on social media and downloaded over 600 times. FFI has been approached by dozens of organizations in the field to give webinars and conference presentations on the findings and recommendations. Over 750 people registered for one such webinar and two of the conference workshops were standing room only. We are also seeing ripples from the project and report that extend beyond the domestic violence field. We are pleased to announce that the Spanish translation of the report
is now available!
Our Team News
The search is on for our new Director of Evidence and Knowledge
We are growing again! In addition to the search for a new Director of Strategic Foundation Partnerships and a California-based Learning from What Goes Well Project Manager, we are expanding the team to include a Director of Evidence and Knowledge. This new team member will lead the creation and implementation of a multi-year evidence and knowledge agenda for the organization. Check out the job description
and share widely with your networks!
FFI says goodbye to amazing interns and welcomes more for summer
FFI is proud to offer numerous internship opportunities throughout the year for students to gain hands-on experience working in systems change and a nonprofit environment. Our interns help support our program and operations work and we are incredibly grateful for their commitment We are excited to welcome Sarah Dash
, Communications Intern, to the team for the summer! Sarah will be starting her senior year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the fall. Next spring, she will be receiving a dual degree in Public Health and Psychology, with a minor in education. We said a fond farewell to Lyra Decastro
, Policy Intern, and Lynne Marie Wanamaker
, Social Work Intern, at the end of the academic year.
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!