New plan focuses on building healthy communities
An obvious recent trend in nonprofit funding is the continuing impact of the global recession on the local economy. Everything is interrelated. Despite the fact that the City of Seattle has largely preserved funding for human services over the past few years, nonprofit agencies have endured severe cuts from federal, county and especially state governments. The cumulative effect has been the fraying of the publicly funded safety net for vulnerable, low-income individuals and families in Seattle and throughout the region.
The length and severity of the recession has affected nearly everyone, but people of color, immigrant and refugee communities and other marginalized groups have felt the impact more acutely in terms of unemployment, loss of health care, rising housing costs, lower wages, and educational gaps. It is critical that we understand the breadth and complexity of these changing needs, and determine whether we are providing the services people need.
- Creating a seamless service delivery system to allow us to better respond to multiple needs in the community;
- Strengthening and expanding partnerships to maximize the use of existing resources and leverage other resources; government can’t do it alone;
- Engaging and partnering with the community to develop stronger client-driven programs and outcomes; and
- Using data to develop and evaluate programs and inform future funding decisions.
We’ve also made internal changes to restructure and streamline our contracting system to make it more effective, accessible and equitable. It’s more important than ever to use our resources effectively. HSD is moving from being a funder of human services to an investment model with the full expectation of seeing a return on our investments in terms of measurable and meaningful results.
Moving forward, government and nonprofits need to partner more closely and more often, but also strategically, focusing on better outcomes for kids and families. We also need to expand our horizons, working with businesses, the faith community, marginalized communities and others, to build a new kind of safety net constructed not just with money but with social capital.