Anchor Community Initiative: Frequently Asked Questions

1.    Q: What is A Way Home Washington (AWHWA)?

A:  A Way Home Washington is a statewide movement to prevent and end youth and young adult (YYA) homelessness through awareness, connection and action. In partnership with the Office of Homeless Youth (OHY), service providers, local communities, and young people with lived experience, we will build a system to serve the estimated 13,000 unaccompanied young people who are experiencing homelessness or are precariously housed in Washington state.

We are a public/private partnership between the government and the philanthropic community. We do not receive any public funding to do our work and are committed to not diverting public funding from service providers. In fact, one of the overall goals of AWHWA is to add capacity to local communities and providers.

2.    Q: What is the Anchor Community Initiative (ACI)?

A: AWHWA is launching the Anchor Community Initiative (ACI) to end youth and young adult homelessness in Washington state by 2022. The ACI will work with 12-15 communities across Washington that say “Yes!” to building a system that achieves the ultimate goal.

3.    Q: What is the ultimate goal of the Anchor Community Initiative?

A: Washington state is in a unique position to end the crisis of youth and young adult homelessness. We know there are young people who are homeless in every county of our state, and yet there are services to support these young people in only 50% of our counties.

Through the ACI, AWHWA and the OHY will build a statewide system that is data-informed, performance-based, mission-driven, and holds young people and families at the center. Young people should not have to leave their home community just to secure safe housing. We want local communities, elected officials, and all citizens to view these young people not as “those kids,” but “our youth” who need and deserve support.  We want to build the “Yes” to “Yes” system so that when a young person says, “Yes, I want help,” the local community has the resources, capacity and resolve to say “Yes, come inside!”

4.    Q: What are Anchor Communities?

A: Anchor Communities selected to join this effort will:

  • Agree to use data to inform strategies, performance, and modifications to their approach
  • Reflect geographic diversity, representing rural and urban communities in all corners of the state
  • Commit to equity and reducing disproportionality for YYA of color and those who identify as LGBTQ+

5.    Q: How will Anchor Communities be selected?

A: The AWHWA Advisory Board will make recommendations on community selection and AWHWA will make the final decisions.

Communities that are selected will be based on, but not limited to, the following criteria:

  • Clarity of proposal
  • Geographic diversity
  • Current capacity
  • Cross-sector support to achieve the goal
  • Data availability
  • Disproportionality within the system

6.    Q: How are you defining “community”?

A: We are leaving it up to the ACI applicants to define “community.” In the context of this initiative, the term could refer to any of the following, but it is not limited to these options: a city, a county, a Continuum of Care (CoC), a regional collective of organizational partners, etc.

7.    Q: What role will AWHWA play in Anchor Communities?

A: We will be the backbone organization, coordinating the various dimensions and collaborations of the initiative. We will provide support, consultation, coaching, and resources to the Anchor Communities while ensuring accountability to the ultimate goals of this initiative.

8.    Q: What does coaching to a community look like?

A: Each Anchor Community will work closely with an AWHWA staff coach who will help guide them through the initiative. We are still designing the coaching curriculum, but some things we envision may include: in-person consultations, phone conferencing, technical assistance, and webinars.

Each anchor community will also work with their coach to build a Community Team and a Core Team. The Community Team will be a cross-section of individuals and organizations including service providers, young people, system representatives (from the local CoC, child welfare, Juvenile Justice, schools, law enforcement, faith-based groups, etc.), local and state elected officials, private citizens, local philanthropy, and others. The Community Team will serve as ambassadors and thought partners to the Core Team and the community at-large. The Core Team is a smaller group that is nimbler and charged with making key decisions informed by the Community Team, local and state data, and the voice of young people with lived experience of homelessness.

9.    Q: What type of support will a community receive?

A: The community will receive support and guidance from AWHWA’s ACI team which includes: a Project Director, Data Manager, Communications Manager, and a Lead Coach. The ACI will receive customized, on-the-ground support from this team, as well as a team of experienced consultants.

Some flexible funding is also available to assist in removing systemic barriers. These are not service dollars, but capacity building support to ensure that each Anchor Community can develop a robust plan, advocate to local and state elected officials, and participate in the public relations campaign. Sustainability and capacity building are essential components to ensure the work is sustained beyond the time-limited ACI.

10.  Q: What additional incentives or benefits will an Anchor Community receive?

A: AWHWA, in partnership with other advocates and the OHY, will engage with the state legislature to fund services that are identified in the Anchor Communities Plan. These include Prevention, Emergency Response, Long-Term Housing, and Support Services. It is anticipated there will be a request for funding to support local projects through the state capitol budget.

Additionally, Anchor Communities will partner with AWHWA to advocate for increased investments from local and federal government, as well as philanthropic donors and private citizens. Anchor communities will expand their capacity for organized advocacy to strengthen their ongoing sustainability.

11.  Q: What is available to communities that do not get selected in the first cohort?

A: The ultimate vision of the Anchor Community Initiative is for 12-15 communities to participate and build their capacity to ensure they can say “Yes” when young people ask for support and help. However, all communities across Washington will benefit from the Anchor Community Initiative, including those not selected in the first cohort.

Examples include:

  • All lessons learned from Anchor Communities will be shared across the state
  • The ACI Public Relations campaign will elevate the issue of YYA homelessness, share innovative programs and progress with the broader public, and work with local media to educate their audiences about the issue and solutions to youth homelessness

12.  Q:  What is the timeline for the Anchor Community Initiative?

  • July 9th — Release of the Request for Proposal
  • July 19th 10:00am — Webinar to provide information and answer questions on the RFP
  • July 31st 5:00pm — Proposals due to AWHWA
  • August 1-31st — AWHWA reviews proposals
  • September 28th — Anchor Community Kick-Off in Seattle, first cohort of four announced

13. Q: How do I submit the RFP?

A: Please save the document to your computer and attach it in an email to Jim Theofelis,

Ready to apply? Click here to review the Request for Proposal guidelines and information on how to submit your application.