BANK OF AMERICA NEIGHBORHOOD BUILDER LEADERSHIP PROGRAM (2016)

by Joyce Lavery, CEO

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“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” ~William Pollard

joyce-ceo- boatraining picAs announced at the end of 2015, Safe Haven is this year’s Bank of America Neighborhood Builder for Nashville. In addition to the $200,000 unrestricted grant to build capacity, I along with one staff member, named our Emerging Leader (Rachael Wilkins), have access to world-class leadership training to expand our own capacity to be effective and visionary leaders at the forefront of solving community problems.

In February, I attended the Neighborhood Builders Leadership Program for Executive Directors in Long Beach, CA. I, along with 60 other leaders from other Bank of America markets that received this same award, participated in an intensive three and a half-day program. Over half of the participants were involved in homeless services and housing. It was inspiring to learn about and work alongside so many bold and visionary individuals who had not only big plans for their organization, but for their communities.

Key to our learning from exceptional speakers was the concept of “scaling up” our organizations with the Bank of America funding. Organizations must do more than just expand their outputs: the services and numbers of clients served; but they must find ways to collaborate with government, businesses, and other organizations to solve huge problems. Understanding large scale trends in nonprofits, demographic and economic shifts, and seeing ourselves as part of the independent sector worthy of our communities’ investment is how we must begin to organize ourselves to be the most effective at leading community change.

One component of our trip was a tour to Skid Row where we visited a housing complex built by The Skid Row Housing Trust Fund. All privately funded, this initiative not only provided exceptional services to chronically homeless individuals, but more importantly, provided permanent supportive housing. It is proven that this is a solution. This requires a large upfront investment, but in the long run, is more economical than doing nothing or only providing temporary housing. It is also the right thing to do.

Safe Haven accepts the challenge to be a part of our community’s strategy to solve the problem of family homelessness – not just to provide exceptional care and services to our clients – but to create new pathways toward changing how we view the problem and how we solve it. I am grateful to Bank of America for their trust in our ability to scale-up, be a part of the solution, and to use their gift to build our capacity to be an even greater and more effective organization.