A man stands at a podium with a screen behind him.

More than 150 attend the fourth Community of Practice

To be the second wealthiest county in the commonwealth and have people sleeping in the streets is unacceptable.

Executives and staff of health and human service nonprofits, government officials and department heads, funders, representatives from area health systems and universities, faith and business leaders and community residents crowded into the grand ballroom at the Normandy Farm and Conference Center in Blue Bell on Friday, June 28, 2019. They were there to hear an update on Phase Two of HealthSpark Foundation's Safety Net Resiliency Initiative and provide insights into how the 10-year initiative should move forward.

Kicking off the meeting were Montgomery County Commissioners Valerie A. Arkoosh, MD, MPH and Kenneth E. Lawrence, Jr. Commissioner Lawrence recalled participating in the point-in-time count of individuals and families experiencing homelessness in January and poignantly remarked, "To be the second wealthiest county in the commonwealth and have people sleeping in the streets is unacceptable."

Fred Brown, President and CEO of The Forbes Funds in Pittsburgh, delivered the keynote address. He told the story of how collaboration is moving the needle on entrenched problems in the Pittsburgh region and challenged attendees to use cross-sector collaboration as a way to bring about transformational change. His slides are available to download as a PDF below.

Following Fred, a series of speakers came to the podium to provide brief updates on various elements of the Safety Net Resiliency Initiative, including:

  • Innovation Lab grants
  • Bringing equity to the center
  • Developing leadership capacity at nonprofits
  • Launch of a new advocacy coalition with an initial focus on the 2020 Census
  • Announcing a new communications plan for the safety net system

Attendees then broke into five work groups focused on many of the above topics. Once reconvened back in the ballroom, session attendees gave pop up debriefs on their biggest takeaways from the breakouts.

Tara Gaudin, Director for the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, closed out the event, using a children's story as a metaphor to encourage the audience to keep strengthening the county's safety net system.

HealthSpark intends to host more Community of Practice meetings. If you would like to be added to the invitation list for future events, email info@healthspark.org

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