Field Notes: Lessons from the EveryOne Housed Academy

written by Anna Blasco
August 21, 2013

This blog post is the fifth in a series from the Alliance on designing a Learning Collaborative for your community. (You can read the first post in the series here, where you'll find an explanation of how a Learning Collaborative works and learn more about the Alliance's Learning Collaboratives in Virginia.)

In the first post in this series  I discussed the EveryOne Housed Academy, which was conducted by EveryOne Home in Alameda County, CA. The Academy was a two-day retreat that helped struggling programs develop tools and strategies to more effectively and efficiently move people to permanent housing.

At the Alliance’s 2013 National Conference in July I had the opportunity to see a presentation by Kathie Barkow and Elaine de Coligny – the masterminds behind the Academy – where they discussed their lessons learned and design process. I wanted to share a few lessons I learned from them with you today. You can see their PowerPoint presentation from the workshop at the bottom of this blog post. 

Consider forming a design team. The Academy’s design team provided valuable insights, including the need to provide concrete resources that organizations could adopt immediately. Their design team included a service provider, a person who formerly experienced homelessness, and a local funder, among others.

Offer new materials organizations can adopt. The design team emphasized the importance of providing the participants with resources such as sample job descriptions, guidelines, policies, and other materials to streamline adoption of new practices. This also allows participants to apply the lessons they learn right away.

Provide guidelines on who should attend. More than one or two staff from each organization needs to be involved to create the necessary “tipping point” that facilitates change. Attendees also need to be representative of all levels of the organization, including front line staff and senior leadership. Participants were encouraged to consider how HR, board members, overnight staff, janitors, and other staff might need to be involved.

Help participants get it with their gut. The Academy represented a change in the way organizations had been doing business. Paradigm shifts like the one the Academy was seeking rarely happen if people do not feel the need for a change, emotionally as well as intellectually. The Academy accomplished this by holding a panel of people currently experiencing homelessness in the community, interactive activities, self-assessments, and by providing opportunities for participants to provide feedback.

Step Six: Facilitator Preparation for First Meeting

Step Seven: Facilitating the First Meeting – Part 1

Step Eight: Facilitating the First Meeting – Part 2