Philanthropic Spotlight: Solutions for Change
Vista, California is home to the not-for-profit organization Solutions for Change, which is getting national attention for its unique approach to solving homelessness. Solutions for Change is in the midst of implementing an evidence-based evaluation of the organization’s successes and PBO Advisory Group was honored to help with the massive systems change needed.
Just this past weekend, Solutions for Change launched the #WeAreOneUs movement which signals the next chapter for the organization. The local systems change will allow the organization to be evaluated for effectiveness and will be synched with national visionaries who share Solutions for Change’s approach to the homelessness solution. Alumni of the organization’s program are helping to lead the #WeAreOneUs movement.
Solutions for Change was founded by Chris and Tammy Megison in 1999 after a chance meeting with a nine-year-old girl named Jessica, while volunteering at a homeless shelter. On that day, Chris promised Jessica he would do everything possible so that she and her family didn’t have live at the shelter, where Jessica was sleeping on the floor.
The organization was founded on a “wing and a prayer,” as Chris likes to say, in a 300 sq. ft. office in a local church. Twenty-one years later, Solutions for Change has expanded into seven offices and serves over 600 children and their families each day.
Solutions for Change views the cause of homelessness as “The Churn,” which the group defines as “the costly and futile cycle that occurs when the root causes of family homelessness are not addressed, causing homelessness to repeat.” There are an estimated one-half million U.S children caught in the churn. According to Solutions for Change, unless there is a commitment to solving it, these children face a greater likelihood of falling into the pattern of generational poverty and homelessness in the future.
The organization’s goal is to crush the churn through a complete solution that transforms families, which includes Solutions Academy, a university-like setting where families discover hope-filled solutions and can forever change the course of their lives. Graduates of the academy are called Overcomers and their success in life after participating in the academy benefits their families, their communities and Solutions for Change, where many of the Overcomers work and/or volunteer.
This unique approach caught the attention of an official with Health and Human Services, which is now a part of the new process evaluating Solutions for Change’s impact.
The success of the organization over the past two decades is what led to the evidence-based evaluation. Chris hired PBO Advisory Group specifically to identify the problems and weaknesses with the system and its processes prior to the evaluation system being launched.
If you’d like to help Solutions for Change, Chris invites you to visit the organization’s website. There you can sign up for the group’s newsletter, get involved in volunteer activities, donate to the monthly needs drive (for furniture, food, etc.), and learn how you can be a part of the solution to solve homelessness.
And what about Jessica, the little girl to whom Chris made the promise? The last time they corresponded, she was doing well and attending junior college. As Chris says, “The power of a transformed life is incredible.”