New Infographic on the Role of Philanthropy in Fostering Collaboration through Cross-Sector Networks
The MARC initiative was recently highlighted in Volume 2 of the Trauma-Informed Philanthropy series created by the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, the Scattergood Foundation, and Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia.
Amy Moseley, community coalitions manager for Children’s Trust of South Carolina, had worked with mothers and babies in maternal-infant health care and with children in foster homes, with victims of sexual assault and individuals with disabilities. She’d noted how poverty and other adversity unspools over the lifespan, how health disparities can persist through generations.
Learning about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) “was seeing the thread between all the areas I had worked in. It made me want to turn my focus to prevention,” she says.
For Moseley’s colleague Aditi Srivastav Bussells, research and community impact manager for Children’s Trust, the ACE study “really reframed public health,” shifting the emphasis from personal risks and behaviors to “things that are often outside of the individual’s control.”
Now the two, with support from Children’s Trust senior leadership and an innovative use of federal child abuse prevention funds, plan to select, support and guide three community coalitions around their state—each with the charge to develop a locally-specific, action-based, cross-sector plan to prevent child maltreatment and boost family well-being.
Brad Lohrey, sheriff of Sherman County in Oregon, likes to tell about an older man who summoned an ambulance about once a week, usually in the middle of the night.
When the 911 calls ended abruptly, Lohrey asked his deputies if they knew why. “One of the deputies told me that he started stopping by the gentleman’s house before going off shift. The deputy told me that spending five minutes stopping and talking with the person caused the person to no longer need the ambulance. The gentleman just wanted somebody to talk to.”
For Lohrey, that’s a vivid example of the power of trauma-informed policing, a concept this second-generation sheriff now embraces. Lohrey, a 26-year veteran of law enforcement whose father was also Sherman County’s sheriff, attended a 2016 Trauma and Resiliency Summit at the urging of a member of the Resilience Network of the Gorge, a cross-sector collaboration that grew from MARC funding.
There, Lohrey learned about the Adverse Childhood Experiences study and the long reach of childhood trauma. It changed his mind about policing. “I think the way we do it now is wrong because we just arrest people because we have nothing else in our toolbox to fix the problem,” he said in July 2017. Lohrey began requiring all his deputies to attend at least one MARC-funded training on ACEs, trauma and resilience.
During a December 2017 convening in Philadelphia, several leaders from Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) realized they had more in common than a passion for building resilience in their communities.
They all hailed from places that had recently been scorched or flooded by natural disasters: wildfires in California and the Columbia River Gorge, hurricanes in Florida, the lingering residue of 2012’s post-tropical cyclone Sandy in the Northeast.
“We had this new commonality: our communities were in turmoil,” says Holly White-Wolfe of Sonoma County ACEs Connection. “We knew we needed a trauma response—not just sensitive to the physical disaster, but to the emotional experience. We said, ‘Maybe we should all get together and come up with some ways of helping communities cope.’”
Guadalupe Mendoza used to drop off her kids for pre-school, then make a quick and silent retreat.
“I hid away,” says Mendoza, mother of five children aged 18 to 5; all but the oldest attended the Head Start/ECEAP (Early Childhood Education Assistance Program) at Walla Walla’s Blue Ridge Elementary School. “I didn’t allow myself to have a connection with the staff.”
Three years ago, Mendoza began volunteering with the pre-school. Then she attended a moms’ group. Still, she shied away from the Parent Policy Council, a group of Head Start/ECEAP parents and community members who review budgets, help make program decisions and plan events.
“I thought it was not going to interest me. Executive stuff: it sounds scary and intimidating,” Mendoza says. But other parents and staff encouraged her. “I realized: Oh, my voice counts. I realized how much of an impact [the Parent Policy Council] has. This year, I ran for president.”
That was a key lesson learned by the San Diego Trauma-Informed Guide Team (SD-TIGT) as the group worked to hone a strategic plan. The network had begun as a grass-roots collaborative, and members wanted to preserve that sense of openness and inclusion.
At the same time, with Harmonium, Inc., as the backbone organization and the MARC grant as an impetus, the network also needed structure, goals and clearly defined roles.
Already, the Guide Team’s focus had shifted; what began in 2009 as a group of professionals, mostly in social service and behavioral health, aiming to improve quality of care for clients had transformed into a hub for networking and information about ACEs and resilience.
Developing a strategic plan that built on the collaborative’s foundation and could usher the group into its next phase required intensive time—monthly meetings proved insufficient, so core leaders decided to meet twice a month—as well as sensitive guidance, said Rosa Ana Lozada, CEO of Harmonium.
“I like the concept of a stick-shift: knowing when to put on the brakes, when to help the group move forward,” she explained in a MARC webinar co-led with staff from the Philadelphia ACE Task Force. “Part of the lesson we learned is to find the vision and work toward that.
Vital Village leaders listened to what community members had to say.
After a 40-hour training—lecture-style, with daily homework and a final exam—for people who wanted to become lactation counselors, participants pushed back; they said the training was arduous and inflexible for volunteers who were also juggling jobs and family responsibilities.
So the leaders of Vital Village Community Engagement Network, located in Boston, tried again. They found a new partner, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), whose trainers could lead a shorter workshop focused on equity and inclusive of people with a range of experience.
They revamped the training application, adding questions about the languages participants speak, their skills—social media expertise, community organizing or advocacy, for instance—and their availability to volunteer.
“A big part of our learning was failing forward,” says Renée Boynton-Jarrett, a pediatrician and founding director of Vital Village. “What we have learned is that we need to have a consistent process for ongoing improvement and one that engages community voices in a very intentional way.”
Policy doesn’t have to be written with a capital letter.
When networks participating in Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) aimed to move the needle on policy—a course of action codified by an agency, business or governmental body—they focused on both “big P” state and federal legislative changes and “small p” movements in local schools, neighborhood organizations and police departments.
In a MARC webinar last fall, leaders from the Illinois and Albany networks described their efforts to inform policy, a long-arc effort that starts with education and awareness.
It was the little red trauma-informed schoolhouse.
Katherine Wickersham-Wade, the Nay’dini’aa Na’ Kayax (Chickaloon Village) clan grandmother who started the Ya Ne Dah Ah School, Alaska’s first Tribally operated school in 1992, might not have used that language. But she did envision a school that would wrap its students in Native ancestral traditions and Ahtna language, instill self-confidence and repair some of the damage inflicted by historical trauma—the disruptions to culture and community caused in part by railroad and road-building, coal mining and colonialism.
In 2005, the school graduated from its small, red-clad structure to a more modern 2,400 square foot building. Though still compact—it serves eighteen students, from toddlers to teenagers—it has become a powerful model of trauma-informed practice.