FAMILIES FOR HOUSING JUSTICE
Residents in two Cincinnati neighborhoods worked with one of the country's leading children's hospitals to fight housing insecurity. Listen to interviews with resident leaders and program stakeholders about the success of Justice Promoters.
In 2015, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center (Cincinnati Children's) invited Design Impact to partner toward the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes for 66,000 children in the Greater Cincinnati area. According to Dawn Denno, Senior Director for Community and Population Health for Cincinnati Children's, “We needed to work with families very deeply to support and understand them.” By inviting multiple community-based organizations into the process, Cincinnati Children's and DI worked with families from two specific neighborhoods as co-researchers and co-creators to identify opportunities, brainstorm solutions, and test concepts.
One of the initial concepts that emerged from this community-engaged process was Justice Promoters. This concept was based on the insight that Hispanic families experiencing fear and violence because of their undocumented status could benefit from the wisdom and experience of other Hispanic families with similar experiences.
Four years later, Justice Promoters is a full-fledged program with a full-time staff person and five paid community leaders working as Justice Promoters, some of whom generated the original idea. While this program is now making significant impact in the lives of the Justice Promoters themselves and the families they reach, the process itself continues to yield new relationships and resources for families, Children’s Hospital, and the broader community as a whole. The program was also received an honorable mention as one of Fast Company's World Changing Ideas.
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THEORY OF CHANGE IN ACTION
The Justice Promoters program has made a significant impact in the lives of the Justice Promoters as well as the families it serves. Here, a few of the program's stakeholders speak to the success of the partnership, illuminating our theory of change.
“IT'S DEFINITELY TAUGHT ME MORE COMPASSION AND EMPATHY FOR EVERYONE."
Kenya Simmons supports the Justice Promoters at Cincinnati Children's. Working with community leaders who connect with and support others in their neighborhood has opened her heart and mind. The experience has given her a deeper sense of empathy and compassion, and has compelled her to act and advocate for justice.
“WE HELP PEOPLE.”
Maria and Alejandra Garcia have been involved in Justice Promoters from the beginning. The sisters helped plant the seed that grew into the current Justice Promoters program. Maria and Alejandra led the program's design, then trained to become Justice Promoters. Now, they are assisting families with housing concerns and leading community-wide efforts to advocate for better housing. What matters most to Maria and Alejandra is that they now feel equipped to help families in their communities with new knowledge and skills so that families can understand their housing rights and responsibilities.
“WE CAN NOW SERVE MORE PEOPLE THAT WOULDN'T TRADITIONALLY ASK FOR HELP.”
Justice Promoters are connectors and bridges to resources, but their leadership also helps Santa Maria Community Services in Price Hill. Justice Promoters extend the nonprofit's reach into the community, offering Hispanic families more access to services. For Amelia Wehr at Santa Maria Community Services, it has been powerful to witness community members once “intimidated to ask for help” to become leaders.
“THE PARENTS ARE LEADING OUR LEARNING.”
Dawn Denno was part of the Cincinnati Children’s team that initiated the partnership with Design Impact four years ago. From her perspective, this community-engaged process has yielded the most impact. Justice Promoters created lasting impact that continues to influence how Children’s makes decisions. It’s also reinforced investment in approaches led by community, and laid the foundations for structures that could be created with residents, centered in lived experience and focused on root causes of inequity.