Photo courtesy of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

May 17, 2021

FJC Hosts Funding Collaborative to Fight Homelessness

Earlier this year, FJC began hosting a funding collaborative of corporate, family, and private foundations that have aligned their funding in an effort to transform New York City’s homelessness systems.   FJC has disbursed over $525,000 in grants on behalf of The NYC Fund to End Youth and Family Homelessness, which expects to make a total of $3 million over the next two years.

The vision of the collaborative goes beyond funding social services.  The Fund seeks to “transform major systems so that they operate to promote housing stability as part of their core function” by influencing a constellation of interlocking systems: housing and shelter; education; foster care; child and family welfare; health, including mental and behavioral health; law enforcement and justice.

The Fund’s governance structure ensures that the philanthropic strategy is being shaped by people with the lived experience of homelessness.

“We’re looking to make strategic grants where if you can just push in the right spot, you can have a compounding effect on impact,” explains Lisa Talma VP of Philanthropic Initiatives at Deutsche Bank, one of the funders.  Among the grants the Fund has made include the development of technology applications that enable homeless individuals to access public resources and programs more quickly, and initiatives that provide direct cash transfers to homeless individuals and families. 

The Fund’s governance structure ensures that the philanthropic strategy is being shaped by people with the lived experience of homelessness.  The Fund currently reserves four seats on its Steering Committee for the two Co-Coordinators of New York City’s Youth Action Board and the two Housing Policy Fellows of New York City’s Family Homelessness Coalition.  By explicitly advancing equity and lived expertise as core values, the collaborative has attracted both national and local funders looking to support cutting-edge programs and interventions.  UPDATED 6/17/21: One of the projects supported by the Fund to research the impact of direct cash transfer payments to homeless youth has attracted follow-on investment from the City of New York.  Read the press release about the Trust Youth Initiative, a program of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and Point Source Youth.

“We considered fiscal sponsorship as an option, but the [Collective Giving Account]’s ease of use and efficient fee structure made it the right vehicle,”

Bea De La Torre, Co-Chair, Managing Director of Housing & Homelessness, Trinity Church Wall Street

To assist the Fund in achieving its goals, FJC arranged a Collective Giving Account (CGA), a variation on a Donor Advised Fund that allows for incoming contributions from multiple philanthropic actors.  “We considered fiscal sponsorship as an option, but the CGA account’s ease of use and efficient fee structure made it the right vehicle,” explains Bea De La Torre, Co-Chair of the Fund, and Managing Director of Housing and Homelessness at Trinity Church Wall Street. 

“Very often our CGA accounts are used by individuals to mark life occasions,” says FJC Chief Operating Officer Meghan Hudson, “Weddings, bar mitzvahs, and the like.  It was easy enough to apply this vehicle to the needs of these more institutional foundations, and we hope to do more in the future.”

List of funders

  • Block-Leavitt Foundation
  • Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation
  • Helmsley Charitable Trust
  • Melville Charitable Trust
  • Pinkerton Foundation
  • Stavros Niarchos Foundation
  • Trinity Church Wall Street

Grants to date

  • Settlement Housing Fund – supporting the NYC Family Homelessness Coalition’s Housing Policy Fellows program, which hires and trains advocates with lived expertise of family homelessness in NYC to help the Coalition’s policy, advocacy, and communications initiatives.
  • Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Service – supporting the Coalition for Homeless Youth in launching a first-of-its kinds Peer Navigator Program, which will train a corps of young people with lived expertise of homelessness to work at youth homelessness service organizations throughout NYC as part of their client service teams, helping their peers find permanent housing and access other benefits programs and support.
  • Rethink Food NYC – as fiscal sponsor for Streetlives, an initiative to co-design, build, and operate a technology platform with youth with lived expertise to better connect young people facing housing instability with the information, services, and support they’re seeking to improve their lives.
  • Funders Together to End Homelessness – to join this national organization and benefit from its learning on national best practices in grantmaking and its public policy advocacy, and to join its cohort of Foundations for Racial Equity.
  • Chapin Hall at University of Chicago – to support a groundbreaking pilot and rigorous evaluation of a Direct Cash Transfer Program, which will study the impact of providing monthly flexible cash support for two years to young people experiencing homelessness in NYC and compare their outcomes with control groups who receive significantly more costly, non-fungible supports like shelter.

For more information, visit the Fund’s home page.