A Journey for Families


The Call to Action
An ambitious call to action at this moment in our nation’s history is understandable: the current social suffering in the United States is staggering in depth and in numbers. Brought on by a recession rivaled only by the Great Depression, we have seen continued job loss and chronic unemployment touching almost every community where The Salvation Army serves. 
Millions of people have lost their material resources and, in the process, have lost their stability. Crisis and vulnerability are too often seen in families and individuals who come repeatedly to our doors. The need for front-line basic assistance has never been greater. Equally great is the need to provide a pathway out of poverty—moving beyond survival to increased stability—to fundamentally changed lives.
The Salvation Army is recognized for meeting basic human needs. In 2009, in the USA alone, the organization provided almost 17 million families with basic services—one precious life at a time.

Research in 272 corps in the Central Territory found that 90% of corps focus only on basic service needs for clients (e.g. food pantry, utility, rental and material assistance, etc.) and only 10% are able to spend time on solving root causes (e.g. focus on skill development, job training and education classes). 


The Pathway of Hope 
The typical Salvation Army emergency assistance client arrives in a state of crisis, is temporarily helped, but remains vulnerable—leading to recidivism at a cost to the individual, the organization and the community. 
What if The Salvation Army could systematically design emergency assistance programs so that, as a client enters, they could be offered a pathway from crisis to sufficiency, increasing the client’s stability, and degree of hope along the way?

The Bold Initiative
The Salvation Army is now embarking on a major “doubling impact demonstration project”. With this project, we aim to develop a higher impact, resource-sensitive, approach to direct emergency assistance  that moves away from simply serving needs. Our goal is to help solve root causes of those needs, enabling individuals to break the cycle of poverty—moving from crisis and vulnerability to increasing stability and even sufficiency—from dependence and despair to independence and hope. 
The Salvation Army’s direct emergency assistance services are the friendly face to the individual in most need, and individuals are most receptive to life changes of transformative potential when they reach out for this basic assistance. 
The opportunity for transformational change in a life may exist by utilizing front-line direct emergency assistance as a “gateway” to deeper and more root-cause affecting programs that ultimately also lower the inherent costs of recidivism.

The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope Approach
The Salvation Army’s holistic Pathway of Hope approach is built upon existing innovations, case management best practices and leveraging state-wide systems within the territory. The objectives include:
•    Developing a new approach to direct emergency assistance that has the potential to enable motivated individuals seeking basic needs assistance to move beyond survival to breaking the cycle of poverty and changing their lives
•    Implementing demonstration project plans that are outcomes based and root cause focused, while utilizing current resources.
 
Initial Pathway of Hope Focus: Families with children—Halting the multi-generational cycle of poverty
Given limited resources and ever-increasing human need, we recognize the initial
 need to focus our help on a key segment of our clients. We want to help a group of clients who are in greatest need of The Salvation Army’s assistance who might also help us achieve our goal of doubling our impact with our existing resources.
Families with children were selected as the group most consistent with our strategic priority to break the multi-generational cycle of poverty, preventing families from remaining in hopeless situations. 
The Salvation Army remains fully committed to our values and beliefs: our doors are open to all. All clients who qualify will receive basic Emergency Assistance services in time of crisis. 

Solving the root cause with our existing resources
The challenge that we pose to ourselves is to do more with the resources we already have. That means continuously leveraging our own financial and human resources—including our very own congregations, further training our staff to look beyond serving clients’ immediate needs, freeing up our social services staff time so that they can better engage with clients, etc.
This also means tapping into external resources, such as other human services organizations, Churches, corporate sponsors, volunteers, and our advisory boards and each member’s network, to reach out to the community to join forces on this key strategic initiative of the Central Territory. 

Our Learning Agenda—Designed for Continuous Improvement and Scaling Impact
Through this initiative, we are challenging ourselves to learn to scale impact at an individual, organizational and system-wide level. We will also codify our experience and study what best practices can be replicated in a given context.
Indeed, we aspire to leverage this big idea to then engage the rest of The Salvation Army in a conversation about this holistic Pathway Approach. Given the sheer scale of The Salvation Army, the dedication of our staff, our geographic presence, and our support across all the different degrees of basic emergency assistance needs, we truly believe that we can transform lives on a very large scale, but your help is crucial.