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, jim@awayhomewa.org.

14. Q: When discussing the Core Team in a community: Involvement in this initiative will likely be an add-on to staff’s current responsibilities. Will any flexible funding be used to assist agencies with participating Core Team members?

A:  We are open to exploring options for the flexible funding.  We have stipends for youth/young adults with lived experience. We see ourselves as a backbone entity, of which a key function is to help remove barriers to building a “Yes to Yes” system.  We are open to talking more about Core Team members partially being funded by our flex dollars.  One of the thoughts we have is to use our flexible funding to fund an ACI local coalition coordinator within that community.   Our funding will not be funding services. However, we will be advocating for services dollars to the Anchor Communities through the legislature.

15. Q:  For the lived experience Core Team member, is this someone who should be currently under the age of 24 or can it be an older adult that has lived experience?  Does this person have to be currently experiencing homelessness?

A: Ideally, we would like representatives from both groups, a youth/young adult and alumni that is over the age of 24.  We will be prioritizing youth that are in our current youth homeless system. We have stipends for persons with lived experience.

16. Q:  What is initially expected regarding the formation of the community and core teams for the RFP?  The application says TA will be provided to form these teams.

A: Although some communities are pulling together a group that will meet before the selection phase, we do not expect the teams to meet prior to the RFP submission. At a minimum we are hoping that you are checking in with partners to ensure they are committed to this initiative over the long term. More in depth support will be provided on forming these teams through TA and other methods.

17. Q: When are performance measures expected to be met for that selected ACI?

A: Nothing has been done like this anywhere across the nation. Our key funder understands that there’s a ramping up process to this collective impact work.  We will start collecting and analyzing data and will not hold communities accountable for benchmarks for about three to six months after launch.   We will be encouraging communities to collecting data on prevention, emergency response, and long-term housing. In addition, we will want to pull data to ensure we are addressing equity (e.g. how many youth of color and LGTBQ+ are housed).  We will have a data manager who will also support Anchor Communities with using data, e.g. collection, analysis and action.

18. Q: Who on the Core Team should sign the application?  Local planning body or lead agency (fiscal sponsor)?

A:  We encourage as many people as you can to sign the application because that demonstrates broad commitment to the initiative.  We understand that you might not be able to get every Core member to sign on and we don’t expect that.

19. Q: How flexible is your process to moving with local communities and partners and not just implementing a master plan that is one size fits all?

A: We will help communities create a master plan to build a “Yes to Yes” system but each plan will be individually tailored to that community.  We will provide a framework and accountability, but the communities are really at the center of this initiative and will be the main entity  of driving the change process.   We will have enough of a “curriculum,” or framework to ensure communities are broadly moving through the same process to really capitalize on our peer to peer model.  We are committed to not over facilitating or dominating the work.  It is important to note that we are aligning with the metrics and benchmarks from the United State Inter-Agency Council on Homelessness (USICH).

20. Q: Should the local communities have their local CoC or BoS coordinated entry person be a part of the Core Team or can they have a manager from a coordinated entry access point?

A:  We would want a decision maker that has enough weight to make changes within that system.  We prefer a person from the local CoC or BoS but are flexible if you think a manager from an access point is best. The key ingredient here is that Anchor Communities will be serving ALL young people who are experiencing homelessness and thus it will be most helpful to have a representative from CoC or BoS that can support a strong relationship with the ACI Core and Community Teams.

21. Q: Would letters from local legislators be helpful?

A: That would be helpful, but it is not required. It would show us that your community has the legislative support to help us get budgets and key legislation passed.

22. Q: What can you say about the ACI in relation to achieving functional zero for youth and young adult’s that are experiencing homelessness?

A: Our metrics are aligned with USICH’s benchmarks and HUD for achieving the goal of ending youth homelessness.  We want USICH to align with our functional zero, “Yes to Yes” system. If we say we have achieved functional zero which means that if someone wants to come inside, then we have a bed for them.  We are calling functional zero our “Yes to Yes” system. We will be asking the local coordinated entry system to include McKinney Vento youth to create a full by name list BNL.  We also will be looking at funding youth who are couch surfing through state dollars instead of HUD dollars. This is one of the key reasons we need strong relationships with the local CoC or BoS.

23. Q: How will the ACI timeline deal with finding or spreading resources for long term housing to underserved and rural communities?

A: Having minimal resources for long term housing won’t disqualify a community.  We are going to look at prevention, emergency services, and long-term housing for each community and determine what is needed.  We will be looking at programs such as host homes and prevention flex dollars, but we want to think creatively.  If we only look at securing buildings, then we would not meet our goal of ending youth homelessness by 2022. One of the great opportunities with the ACI is rethink our approach to preventing and ending YYA homelessness.  We expect that one key strategy must be increasing and improving our Prevention strategies-how do we keep more young people from even entering a Drop-In Center or experiencing the streets.

24. Q: Would an ACI community need to be the area served by a local CoC or could it be a location that is underserved by a CoC or a community that isn’t a part of a CoC?

A: Being a part of a CoC is important.  Choosing a part of the community that is under-served by a CoC is a fine strategy.  It is hard to imagine how we make the progress we want and be aligned with the national work if an Anchor Community is not part of a CoC or BoS.

25. Q: Would a letter of support from the Core Team show commitment or should we just cut and paste their signatures to the RFP?

A: You can attach that commitment letter in lieu of application signatures.  You can also cut and paste the signatures in the RFP and attach the letter.