This is a proposal written during my internship at HomeFirst of Santa Clara County. This content is copied with their permission. I formatted the template following MetLife's online form and have included only original text. I have deleted all proprietary or boilerplate material for brevity.
MetLife Foundation Grant Application
(paragraph, 2000 cm. “Please briefly describe your organization incl. mission statement and history”)
The mission of HomeFirst is to confront homelessness by cultivating people’s potential to get housed and stay housed. Established in 1980 as the Emergency Housing Consortium, HomeFirst originally served just nine families. Today, we are a multi-service organization serving over 5,600 local homeless individuals annually at eight locations throughout Santa Clara County. Designed to increase self sufficiency and break the cycle of poverty, our programs provide shelter and transitional housing, job training, life skills workshops, case management, as well as basic care. Our overall organizational goals are to assure clients exit our programs with increased income, permanent housing, and the skills needed to successfully maintain these necessities.
Our Fiscal Year 2013-2014 focus populations are families with children, transition-age foster youth, U.S. military veterans, and the chronically homeless. We provide these vulnerable populations with a viable path to financial inclusion that would otherwise be blocked by the instability of homelessness. BRC’s workshops have provided over 3,000 trainings in the last year alone. Weekly drop-in classes can include budget counseling, banking basics, computer skills, resume writing, and stress management. These courses establish accountability, build trust, and prepare clients for more advanced opportunities.
(paragraph, 2000 cm. “Please describe your organization’s activities”)
HomeFirst works throughout Santa Clara County to assist homeless individuals in increasing their self sufficiency, raising household income, and ultimately achieving sustainable permanent housing. We operate eight properties in the County, four of which provide supportive, educational, and basic services. These four locations are as follows:
- Boccardo Reception Center (San Jose): Emergency shelter and transitional housing for homeless adults, including chronically homeless individuals, adults with mental illness, and individuals experiencing a one-time bout of homelessness. Services include basic needs assistance and customized life skills training.
- Sobrato Family Living Center (Santa Clara): Transitional and permanent housing for 50 homeless families with children.
- Boccardo Family Living Center (San Martin): Emergency and transitional housing for 26 homeless families with children, as well as migrant worker housing.
- Sobrato House Youth Center (San Jose): Transitional housing and support services to foster youth, ages 18-21.
HomeFirst offers case management to clients, which provides a formal framework for developing an individualized plan for self-sufficiency. Case managers and program staff connect clients with workshops, goal setting, employment preparation, and skill building workshops to ensure an upward trajectory that meets the needs of each individual. Case management includes:
- A baseline analysis of an individual’s work potential, previous employment, life skills, and stability
- One-on-one case management to set goals for the future, explore housing options, and place the client on a path to build skills necessary for employment
- Workshops on computer skills, literacy, personal finance, time management, kitchen and janitorial practices, resume writing, and other customized programming based on an individual’s needs and abilities
- Referrals for other work training, medical insurance, housing assistance, and skill building as deemed appropriate by the client and case manager
Project Description (paragraph, 2000 cm)
HomeFirst is requesting support from the MetLife Foundation to support financial workshops, case management, and homeless support programming at the Boccardo Reception Center (BRC), the largest living facility for homeless individuals in Santa Clara County. Last year, this facility provided basic needs and supportive services to 3,400 homeless adults, including 769 military veterans. After receiving stabilizing basic care, clients who are ready to move forward are offered individualized support in building a plan for self sufficiency. This is carried out in two parts; 1) through one-on-one case management, and 2) through the completion of skill building workshops.
Programs at the BRC address financial inclusion in three ways:
- Assessment of clients’ current income, past income, and options for increasing income and stability
- Creation of individual income, housing and work training goals for the future
- Identification of current liabilities and financial challenges, including client’s debt, court fees and credit issues.
Clients who show the interest and aptitude are invited to apply for the New Start program, offering training in janitorial or commercial kitchen skills. Once enrolled, participants receive 6 months of shelter stay while training 24-35 hours per week. In addition, clients receive employment services, all their meals, medical services, and computer access.
Life Skills workshops, including financial literacy training, are another service designed to improve the client’s economic status. Financial skill building workshops at BRC address debt reduction, outstanding court fees and credit issues, how credit works, preparing a budget, and banking basics. Related workshops include computer skills, resume writing, and stress management. Through this process, clients become more apt to identify poor financial habits and work to change them.
Project Benefits (paragraph, 2000 cm)
Santa Clara County is home to both abundant wealth and acute poverty. According to the 2013 City of San Jose Homeless Census and Survey, there are currently 7,631 homeless individuals on any given night in the County, nearly 600 more than the prior count. Furthermore, homelessness is on the rise in our community, with an 18% increase recorded in the last two years. As a result, the County has the fifth largest homeless population, and the single largest homeless encampment, in the United States. Economic factors continue to pose a significant barrier to housing and stability for the majority of people experiencing homelessness in our community. The top three obstacles to permanent housing for this population include: no job or income (54%); no money for moving costs (30%); and bad credit (21%). These findings demonstrate a local need for programs that eliminate barriers to financial inclusion while building skills and stability.
BRC support and educational programs will:
- Assist 300 clients in identifying poor financial habits and decision making, and set goals for the future
- Expand current financial life skills classes to all BRC program clients
- Provide 3,000 workshops and life skills education sessions
- Increase workshop attendance through a planned campaign that includes assistance from community partners, and collective programmatic priority from our case managers.