Building Back Better

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken our communities, our workplaces, and our families. The pandemic is laying bare the stark inequities in our society, cleanly separating those with the means to self-isolate and to work remotely, from those who were already living on the edge.  Our safety net sector itself is experiencing a uniquely taxing moment. Demand for safety net services has skyrocketed as millions file for unemployment. Nonprofits are struggling to respond to canceled fundraising events, to put in place remote work capacity with outdated tech systems, to understand and respond to the myriad relief programs offered, to keep staff and clients safe while delivering more services that often rely on face-to-face interactions and personal connection. At the same time, governments are projecting billions of dollars in shortfalls in revenue in coming years, placing the safety net system at great risk for underfunding and cuts.

What is becoming clearer than ever is that a return to “normal” isn’t good enough or even possible.

As discussions to reopen our economy and our communities are underway, we all are anxious to return to the life that we knew before. Yet, at HealthSpark we wonder- is this the opportunity, the challenge, the push we needed to create a better normal? As we pick up the pieces of our economy, our service sector, our homes and workplaces and schools, is there an opportunity to rethink the bigger picture? To envision a set of policies, practices, and structures that can make our social safety net just that- safe, secure, and capable of catching everyone when they fall?

It’s with this new vision and challenge in mind that we are launching Build Back Better. Build Back Better is a community-driven effort to capture the experiences of safety net partners during this pandemic and to use those experiences to envision a set of policy and funding recommendations for creating a better social safety net in the months and years to come.

Build Back Better is a new supporting component of our larger 10-year effort to build a more just and financially resilient social safety net, called the Safety Net Resiliency Initiative. Build Back Better will hold true to our values of being community-driven, seeking social and economic equity, using data and informed experiences, and connecting cross-sector partners to drive change.