White chalk drawing of a mortarboard on a black chalkboard

What We Are Learning

Concerned about the financial fragility and long-term sustainability of our county’s safety net system, we launched the Safety Net Resiliency Initiative in January 2018. The initiative aims to transform the system while building the financial resiliency of its providers over the next 10 years.

As we enter Phase Two of the initiative, we reflect on what we’ve learned - in collaboration with our evaluation partners Equal Measure - in our planning and Phase One

Lessons Learned

Several lessons have emerged about what it takes to invest in and support systems change.

Address Providers' Time and Resource Constraints
By providing stipends to organizations that participated in the Design Teams, we showed that we understand the time it takes for leaders to network, build relationships and engage differently.

Be Strategic AND Responsive
Funders can balance strategic approaches with community responsiveness by creating opportunities for providers to share - and then support - their innovative ideas.

Include the Whole Community
Providers wanted to include safety net consumers, community members and other sectors - such as first responders, courts, local businesses and school districts - in developing ideas and making decisions.

Communicate and Reinforce Critical Messages
Careful planning, consistent messaging and communication with the broader community helped to reinforce the idea of systems change while enhancing buy-in and participation.

Page down for other key learnings from the initiative.

Phase Two:  Translating Lessons Learned

Based on what we have learned so far, we launched Phase Two of the initiative with the following key strategies:

We will roll out these strategies over the course of 2019.

Mobilizing Our Community

Two important mobilizers energized safety net providers early on.

Setting a Common Vision
We input from a variety of audiences and collectively created a vision for the county’s safety net system.

Creating Space for Solution Seeking
We established four Design Teams that, over a six-month period, brainstormed ideas to transform the safety net system. And we hosted larger Community of Practice meetings to update the community and gather additional feedback.

Early Signs of Systems Change

Increased Comfort with Uncertainty
Six months of brainstorming, problem-solving and planning brought about a commitment to "trust the process".

Shifting From Organizational to Systems Thinking
After Phase One, many stakeholders are moving from a "me" to a "we" mindset.

Early Signs of a Movement
Providers' deep commitment to collaborating shows promise of a growing county movement. We engaged an increasing number of people and organizations in Phase One.