WAKING THE VILLAGE wrote -
In a nutshell:
Yesterday Tubman House was notified that after ten years of funding and the highest reviews, they would no longer receive federal funding to serve homeless youth. This funding provided 60% of the funds needed to sustain our program. Provided NO notice of this change in order to prepare, Tubman House is working hard to secure $15,000 to get through this month and ensure each family we serve transitions to a safe, stable home with supports in place to maintain momentum toward career, college, and wellness.
We are also working toward a much broader goal of building a network of 500 to 700 supporters that commit $25 each month to sustaining Tubman House for the year ahead. Tubman has already secured $100,000 in funding for 2013, generates $40,000 in Tubman funding through its cottage industry each year, and owns its two program sites. This year of support would allow us the time to secure solid funding for the future. To sign up as a monthly supporter, please follow this link: Become a Monthly Supporter
In a long winded and detailed telling that may invoke tears:
Tubman House is going to close. Unless some magic unfolds in the week ahead, Tubman House will be forced to shut its doors in the next week after ten years. We had thought we were just getting started.
Yesterday, while coaching with a Tubman resident, we received news that Tubman would not be receiving the Runaway and Homeless Youth funds that cover over half the expenses of housing, nourishing, and supporting our residents and our children. We have been receiving these funds for ten years and our reviews always place us in the top ratings for quality of programs and outcomes. We, along with programs across the nation, submitted out applications for funding in June. The funding was to begin September 30 as it had for ten years. Yet, no agency had heard anything as of last Friday. Our endless phone calls to federal representatives were answered the same way: “We have not been authorized to announce the recipients.” Yesterday, two days into the funding cycle, it was announced. Tubman, along with countless other programs for homeless youth nationwide, was left unfunded.
Had we some notice, we could have braced for this. At minimum, we could have ensured that each Tubman family transitioned from the program with housing, childcare, and momentum in place. We believe we could have raised the funds through community donations and grant writing. Instead, we are blindsided and the money we need to continue has been denied. We have been told that we should get a letter in the next month explaining why we were denied. Until then it is a mystery to us. Our outcomes are the strongest they’ve been in ten years in terms of stabilizing housing, securing jobs, completing GED and college classes, earning career certificates, and connecting residents to wellness and health.
Tubman House has expected $200,000 in Runaway and Homeless Youth funding over the next 12 months. This covers 60% of Tubman’s expenses, including occupancy expenses for both houses, groceries for 8 families, a range of supplies, gas for the van, and payroll and basic medical benefits for our 7 person staff that includes the Executive and Program Directors, a Youth Development Director, 2 House Directors, and 2 Child Development Teachers.
Over the last 5 years, we have worked hard to diversify our funding and decrease our dependence on government funding. We opened Art Beast-which slides all profits into Tubman. We secured major grants from The California Wellness Foundation, Sacramento Employment and Training Agency, and Dignity Health. We layered in smaller regional grants from the Active 20/30 Club, Soroptimist Clubs, Raleys, Target, and The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. We launched The Festival of Little Houses, our annual fundraiser which doubled its proceeds in its second year. We doubled our community donations. We went from 90% dependence to 60% in 4 years. In fact, we had already secured $97,000 in grant funds for 2013 and we’re mentally looking toward on-going growth and expansion of services in 2014.
Furthermore, we reduced our program expenses in those same 4 years by securing a grant to purchase both our sites. With the exception of the Child Development Teachers, no one on Tubman’s staff has received a raise in years.
This morning, slightly less numb with shock, the staff and residents and children gathered into a circle to talk. You can imagine the fear being carried. Residents months away from moving into their own apartment wondering, “Where will I go?” and “How can I finish my college classes or keep my job if I lose childcare?” Staff- every single staff person- suddenly unemployed after 4 or 7 or 10 years of commitment.
Yet, once again, as always, crying and sighing and somehow laughing together, we claimed hope. The residents were full of fire. They were not asking, “What about my family?” They were asking, “What are we going to do to save our community?” As women and men of tremendous heart and resilience, they took action:
“I started working on an email to Oprah and Ellen last night.”
“I called the news station.”
“Have you heard of crowd sourcing? Couldn’t we do that?”
“I called my grandpa and he said he’s going to talk to his church.”
“How do you organize a telethon? Can I google it?”
“Let’s occupy something. I’ll live in a tent.”
“The news only likes to cover bad stuff. How could we get them to pay attention to the good things that happen here?”
“I’m going out this afternoon and knocking on doors. I want to tell people what’s happening.”
“I called Linda and told her that I want the money she is giving me for painting her windows to be donated to Tubman. This is our home.” (This from a young mother and great artist who just got her first work doing a store window.)
“I think I could host a gaming night if I could find a site and get my friends to bring their systems.”
“Could we do some evening kids’ events at Art Beast?”
What had begun as the worst morning of our careers had somehow become one of our proudest moments. This is what Tubman is all about. It’s about believing you can fight for what you love and dream of. It’s about knowing you hold within you the brilliance, strength and creativity to create the family, the future, the home and the community you want.
We were undone today by the love shown. Undone by house directors and child development teachers insisting, “I’m not going anywhere. It’s not about the money.” Undone by residents who pulled us aside to worry about our grief and reminded us to feel- letting us know it was OK that we could not lead as gracefully and confidently as usual. Undone by the children clamoring onto our laps for hugs and songs and presence.
Tubman is up for the fight. Everyone of us is ready to risk hope and work hard toward it.
But, now, more than ever, we need our community. Desperately. We have never been an agency with big donors. When we do ask for support, we usually have an offering: a place of creativity for children or a weekend of family renewal. This time we come to you with nothing but need.
We have two dreams. One is small- to see us to a graceful end. The other is absurdly big- to ask our community to stand by Tubman and commit the $200,000 to see us through the year ahead.
The small dream is to raise $15,000 in the next few days. This would allow us 30 days to find housing and childcare for our current Tubman families. The outcomes would not be those the residents were aiming for as of last Friday because one month is not enough time to build savings, work up affordable housing lists, find quality childcare, and complete schooling. We would have to somehow settle for basic stability over blossoming. The $15,000 would also allow us to continue to provide services on site for the entire month, and give our staff one month of income as they scramble to secure work.
The big dream would be for us to survive this and come out stronger. Relying on government funding is always scary. We see way too many great program fall to budget cuts. If we could develop a strong base of donors quickly, we could emerge from this with a stronger foundation, and residents who had witnessed the miracle of community. More than anything, we want to prove to our residents that this city and this world thinks they are worth the investment.
Furthermore, we already having $97,000 secured for 2013, along with owning our program sites and bringing in consistent income through ArtBeast, our cottage industry to sustain Tubman. We know how to put together funding to sustain a program. We were just denied that chance with the lack of notice. We can get back on our feet- and soon. We just need the time.
It would take 650 people committing $25 a month to Tubman for the next 12 months to survive this moment.
We have the same question our residents asked: Is that number huge or is it actually quite small?
27 hours ago, when we got the news, it seemed impossibly big.
Somehow, after the morning we just had, it seems surprisingly possible.