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Taking a 360° Approach

Health, Wealth, Living and Learning

CFT takes a 360° approach to supporting the needs of individuals and their communities through four intersectional pillars of thriving: HealthWealthLivingand Learning. At the heart, what we’re striving to achieve through attention to these areas is equity, connectedness, and belonging for all.

HEALTH is a holistic concept engaging the biological, psychological, and behavioral dimensions of life. What affects a person’s health encompasses everything from their local environmental conditions to access to things like grocery stores and parks, pets as companions, transportation, preventive medicine, and education. To move the needle on health, interventions must move upstream and engage the choices people make and the environments in which they live.

WEALTH is defined as financial security, which is significantly impacted by employment opportunities for individuals and economic development within communities. While the majority of people living in poverty have jobs, millions of adults live paycheck to paycheck, unable to cover a surprise expense – demonstrating that employment is not enough to ensure financial security. We must aim for financial resilience in the face of economic shocks, pathways to progressively improving opportunities, and the state of prosperity in which people have enough money to fulfill their needs and many of their wants.

LIVING ZIP code can be more predictive than genetic code when it comes to life outcomes. Decisions surrounding community planning, engagement, and design; access to arts, culture and parks; as well as the presence of crime prevention strategies and justice system processes, can have a significant impact on the physical, social, and mental health of community members and their ability to thrive today and across generations.

LEARNING Education has the power to change a life. Educating our youth to maximize their potential also provides the foundation to power the workforce of tomorrow. The pursuit of a certification or postsecondary degree significantly affects the earning potential for an individual, impacting the community they live in and the legacy of their future generations. Training and skills growth also provides individuals an opportunity to reinvent themselves as circumstances change throughout their lifetime.

Health: Food Equity Innovation Challenge

CFT worked with the City of Dallas to co-design the Food Equity Innovation Challenge using principles of trust-based, community-led philanthropy. The challenge used input from the community to define the scope of the “food desert” problem, catalogue community assets and needs, create a collaborative design process with contributions from nonprofits of varying sizes and members of the community, and incorporated industry peers in the proposal review process. The challenge additionally provided CFT with an opportunity to practice community-driven, equitable, and transparent grantmaking around a major source of either wellness or illness in our lives – food, and the nutrients and building blocks of health (or lack thereof) that it has the power to confer.

Health: 360 Degrees of Health Grantmaking

A person’s well-being is influenced by their environmental and social health, access to networks and economic opportunities, housing, nutrition, and safety. These factors, often called the social determinants of health, shape individual and population health outcomes.

CFT’s first year of 360 Degrees of Health grantmaking focused on funding studies that explore ways to improve the well-being of North Texans in ways that account for variables such as race, income, and ZIP code. The goal of this grantmaking effort was to identify ways to build a culture of health for all.

Wealth: Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy

Thought leaders from multiple sectors have joined forces as members of the Dallas Economic Opportunity Leadership Academy, a program designed to improve economic opportunities and create innovative solutions for today’s business challenges. CFT partnered with JPMorgan Chase & Co. United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and the Aspen Institute to create the 12-month program for 24 fellows who participate in retreats and workshops that focus on strategies to strengthen the workforce. The program ends with a collaborative capstone project presentation from the cohort.

Wealth: Working Families Success (WFS)

CFT launched the Working Families Success initiative in 2014, developing a network of 16 organizations from across the Dallas/Fort Worth region committed to helping families achieve lasting economic outcomes such as increased income, improved credit scores, reduced debt, and increased wealth for their clients and their communities. The WFS model includes a set of three core elements: employment services, income support, and financial coaching. Services are bundled and sequenced together in a seamless way for the client, combined with one-on-one coaching to help clients set goals, develop plans, and change behavior. Since the launch of CFT’s Working Families Success initiative, over 6,000 people across DFW have been connected to living wage jobs, reduced debt, and built savings and credit to secure and grow their families’ economic futures.

Living: Green Space for All

Winding through southwest Dallas, Five Mile Creek and its surrounding watershed is a unique natural asset that has been largely disconnected from the city’s parks and trails. Recognizing the area’s opportunity, The Trust for Public Land, alongside hundreds of local residents, developed a bold vision for revitalizing this space – the Five Mile Creek Urban Greenbelt. The initial part of this initiative being supported by CFT includes the Alice Branch Health and Wellness Park & Trail, a two-acre greenbelt park near South Oak Cliff High School. The centerpiece is a vacant lot along an overgrown and polluted creek that will be transformed into an anchor park and eventually become part of the larger plan to connect to the greenbelt. The Trust for Public Land will also have an accompanying STEAM-based Cool Schools program that will be implemented at the high school in collaboration with Texas Trees Foundation, which will integrate campus greening and creek overgrowth management into its outdoor education work with students.

Living: COVID-19 Pandemic Response

Nonprofit food distribution and food pantry providers, along with domestic violence shelters, saw the demand for their services increase by 2.5 to 3 times their normal rate as schools closed, family members were laid off and sources of income evaporated, and stress levels rose across households. As a point of reference, more than 50% of the demand for food came from new clients that organizations hadn’t previously served. Seeing this need evolving in real time, Communities Foundation of Texas helped create North Texas Cares in March 2020, a collaborative partnership of 35 North Texas funders developed to streamline the process for nonprofits applying for COVID-19 related emergency funding via a shared online grant application. From March through July 2020, 1,400 grants were awarded from these 35 foundations, totaling over $40 million in assistance to 630 area nonprofits across the region through the North Texas Cares application process.

Learning: Best In Class Coalition 

Every child deserves the chance to be taught by well-prepared, effective, and diverse educators. The Best In Class Coalition is united behind a shared vision for transforming teacher and school leader pipelines in the Dallas/Fort Worth region. Committed to data-driven strategies and a continuous-improvement approach, coalition partners focus improvement on shared, community-wide goals. The goal: to increase the number of students in the Dallas/Fort Worth region who are on track for college and career success by ensuring access to effective and diverse teachers and school leaders in every school. Championing effective educators for every student is a part of CFT’s strategy to ensure thriving communities and futures for all.

Learning: Dollars for College

Kindergarten and first grade students in two local school districts are saving money for higher education through Dollars for College, a program CFT created in partnership with United Way Metropolitan Dallas. The program seeded the college savings plan accounts that are in the students’ names with $50. The accounts are built to grow to $500 in two years through matching and incentive funds. In one of the school districts, more than 80% of the eligible students have opened accounts.

This story was originally featured in our 2020 annual report. For additional details and content, click here.

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