Read descriptions of these timely, early-stage projects that are aiming to shift practice in the social sector.
There is currently no system in place to help staff of charitable organizations provide furniture to homeless clients who are moving into new homes. Searching for and delivering low-cost or free furniture creates a bottleneck in housing placements and prolongs the time that people live in an emergency shelter or temporary housing. For hundreds of nonprofit organizations, this approach costs precious staff time and scarce resources. To solve this problem, Pathways to Housing PA and its partners will launch a large-scale, tech-savvy system to redistribute cast-off furnishings at no cost to families and individuals in need: Philadelphia Furniture Bank.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore sells new and gently used donated building supplies and home goods to the public. 850 ReStores across the U.S. generated $89 million in net profits in 2013, covering the costs of 898 Habitat homes. Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia’s ReStore offers a unique and significant opportunity for the organization to increase revenue and, in turn, build and repair more homes for Philadelphians living in poverty. Despite a strong business model and success in other cities, the local ReStore has struggled financially. Determined to diagnose the problem and turn the fledging business around, Habitat enlisted professional counsel on retail management and real estate and determined that the store’s location was dramatically hindering its potential. The Barra grant will allow Habitat to relocate their enterprise to a competitive new location, deliver improved marketing, and secure the financial strategy services of Nonprofit Finance Fund.
Bethesda Project is developing a new model of care for chronically homeless individuals, Bethesda Beacon. Their goal is to make available within one building a seamless process for people to transition from living on the streets, to engaging in social services, to receiving and recovering from medical care, to living in permanent housing. The “step-up” model includes a welcoming café, medical respite care for 30 people and 50 units of permanent housing—all under one roof. The Barra grant will support Bethesda Project’s first phase of planning, which includes examination of the design’s feasibility and financial sustainability.
PhillyGoes2College, a project of The Mayor’s Office of Education, launched Connect2College (C2C), an initiative featuring a web-based app and text messaging tool that provide users with college access information. The online and mobile tools supplement and enhance C2C’s work with community-based organizations to provide on-site college planning information. This new approach utilizes scarce resources more efficiently to provide citywide access to information and to foster a college-going culture.
Update: Through C2C, The Mayor’s Office of Education has strengthened 24 organization’s capacity to offer college access resources and services. Awareness of C2C has grown and more residents are accessing C2C through the website, the texting platform, at partner sites and through one-on-one appointments with C2C staff. From the launch in January 2015 through October 2015, the website had 6,962 users, the texting platform had 428 subscribers, the Facebook page had 1982 likes and there were 242 new Twitter followers demonstrating the reach of C2C’s message.