Handwritten words on white paper, that read, "We are Montgomery County:  Vibrant, Diverse, Resilient." Below are green and red drawings of building outlines.

Resiliency Initiative

We envision a resilient and financially sustainable safety net that allows anyone in Montgomery County to access high quality, coordinated, equitable and culturally appropriate services no matter who they are, what they need or where they live.

The above vision was crowdsourced by attendees at two large meetings we held in the fall of 2017. 

The county's safety net system is supported by both public and private dollars, but the financial structure is fragile. And people in need of services too often find themselves struggling to get the right help, at the right time, in the right place and in an empowering way.

It is this situation that led us to create the Safety Net Resiliency Initiative. This 10-year effort aims to improve the ability of the county's safety net system to weather uncertainty and better meet the needs of people across the county.

We will do this through grants and training for those organizations interested in strength and flexibility of the safety net. And because we believe it is important to talk with those most affected, we want to gather ideas from consumers, too.

Background

Since 2016, we have been gathering input from nonprofits and others involved in the safety net system. We have found significant interest in our goal of a resilient safety net.

Graphic and timeline that explains the resiliency initiative.
This graphic visually represents the timeline and various elements of this first phase of the initiative.

 

Phase One

Working with local and national consultants, we created four Design Teams that met from March - August 2018 to brainstorm and hone ideas to improve the county's safety net system. We also hosted three Community of Practice meetings where a larger community of nonprofits, municipal leaders, school district officials, funders and county officials provided feedback to the Design Teams on their ideas. More

Phase Two

With Phase One complete, we moved into Phase Two during which we will implement the big ideas that emerged from the work of the Design Teams:  a grant opportunity to pilot ideas through the Innovation Lab, a new capacity building training program, commissioned research projects, a communications and advocacy campaign about the safety net system and other opportunities to get involved in this work. More

Innovation Lab

Research and development is common in the for-profit sector, but not in the nonprofit sector. Participants in Phase One of the initiative developed the idea of an Innovation Lab, where nonprofits could test out promising ideas through pilot projects. We will offer health and human service nonprofits the opportunity to apply for a grant to test an approach to improve the safety net. These collaborative pilots will run for 12 - 15 months.

Trainings

Building knowledge and internal capacity of individual organizations also benefits the system. We heard from safety net organizations that they need training in leadership development, financial management and cultural awareness. We will soon launch a training program for nonprofits serving Montgomery County that will allow them to dig deep into these issues.

Community Input

Gathering input from the community has been a key component of this initiative. We have hosted a variety of meetings, large and small, to gather input into the design of the initiative, the development of the core elements in Phase Two and the creation of feedback loops along the way. We will continue to engage the community through ad-hoc Action Teams, Community of Practice meetings and a new Leadership Advisory Council.