August 6, 2021
Gratitude for the WFS Advisory Council
Often, when you hear or read about a nonprofit in the media, you learn about the incredible work of their leadership – the executive directors, presidents, and CEOs. Through my role as Senior Philanthropy Officer for Communities Foundation of Texas, I have had the opportunity to develop a relationship with many of the nonprofit staff who report to senior leadership and play an integral role in how nonprofits deliver services.
I call these individuals the implementors - the ones that are proximate to and build relationships with the people their organizations serve and support. These people bring to life impactful programs and services, but too often their efforts and approach to their work remain unseen. Since CFT’s formation of the Working Families Success (WFS) Network in 2014, we have aimed to support and shine a light on these implementors and their work.
In 2020, the WFS Advisory Council was formed to not only help guide the WFS Network, but also to highlight some of the most engaged WFS Network members. The members of the WFS Advisory Council love what they do and generously devote their time and energy to share lessons they have taken from their own experience. This blog post is the first in a series that will highlight the passionate WFS Advisory Council members that are giving their time to help others grow and succeed.
Overview of CFT’s Working Families Success Network
Working Families Success was launched in 2012 and is fast approaching its 10-year anniversary, marking one decade of CFT’s strategic focus on improving economic security in North Texas.
Working Families Success is based on a model of program delivery that outlines a framework for nonprofits to deliver key services and financial assistance to families striving to overcome economic challenges. These services are specifically designed to make it easier for families to obtain critically needed support.
WFS is rooted in the concept that when nonprofits offer integrated services in an intentional and thoughtful way, it creates opportunity and improves the likelihood that clients will overcome barriers and advance economically.
CFT’s WFS Network includes organizations from across the Dallas/Fort Worth region who are committed to helping families achieve sustainable economic outcomes. This includes increased income, improved credit scores, a reduction of debt, building individual and community wealth, and enhanced personal confidence. We have seen firsthand that when employment services, income support, and financial coaching are interconnected, clients realize better outcomes.
Today, there are sixteen agencies that make up the WFS Network. These agencies/organizations shown below, receive technical assistance as well as multi-year funding support from CFT to help further their efforts to improve the lives of local families.
The WFS Network meets monthly or bi-monthly and has become a trusted community for one another over the years. CFT offers technical assistance support and hosts guest speakers and workshops around topics that are relevant to their work and the families they serve, such as behavioral science, financial coaching, asset building, FinTech products, and much more.
The Advisory Council serves as an integral part of the Network and was developed to recognize individuals who have shown great leadership within their organization to help successfully implement the WFS model. They have taken on an unofficial leadership role within the Network by serving as mentors and speakers to further the growth of other agencies. They understand the model, have led their organizations to execute it well, and are willing to share knowledge so other organizations can do the same.
I am inspired by their work daily and am excited for you to learn more about these unsung heroes and their work through this series. As part of the series, our Advisory Council experts will be guest blogging over the coming months about some of their learnings across behavioral sciences, data-driven decision making, financial coaching, continuous improvement and more.
Throughout the WFS Network experience, we’ve learned so many lessons together that we want to share broadly, so I hope you’ll learn more about our council members below and join us on our reflective journey.
Meet the WFS Advisory Council Members: Wendy Abel, Rachael Berhe, Katelyn Davis, Terri Rios, and Maria Riviera.
Wendy Abel - Outcomes Manager, CitySquare
As Outcomes Manager, Wendy works with the programs to identify outcomes, targets, and goals. With the data team, reports are created to measure program progress, and train staff on the use of their data system and how it can inform and shape their work with the program’s neighbors.
CFT has allowed Abel and her team to bring data decisions to all of WFS’ programs. Through the WFS cohort, the team has learned how to better invite the teams to the data table in identifying ways to better use data to better support their neighbors and to use data to better inform their stakeholders.
Rachael Berhe - Program Director, Wilkinson Center
As the Program Director, Rachel provides leadership, guidance and supervision of Adult Education and Literacy, Workforce training and Food and Supportive Services. Her role includes evaluation, data tracking, and program design.
Communities Foundation of Texas has had a great impact on the work done at Wilkinson Center. It started with the Data Driven Decision Making cohort and now The Working Families Success Network. This is a model they have adopted agency-wide and it really allows the people served to receive the same core services regardless of entry point into the agency.
Katelyn Davis - Program Director, CEC
As Program Director, Katelyn is responsible for the strategic implementation and program outcomes for Employment & Financial Coaching Services, Housing PLUS Program and Adult Education.
Partnering with CFT and adopting the Working Families Success (WFS) Model has opened many doors for not only their programs but also their staff and clients. The Coaching Team utilizes a variety of tools that has had tremendous impact on service delivery and helps client have the opportunity to build a solid foundation with financial stability and economic advancement.
Terri Rios - Director of Employment Solutions, The Women's Center of Tarrant County
Terri oversees The Women’s Center’s Jobs NOW!, Strengthening Families, and skills training programs, which exist to inspire and empower women and men to overcome crisis and poverty.
Under her leadership, program services were enhanced with the implementation of best practices based on community needs, including the shift to the Working Families Success model. This model has lifted their programming to a new level of effectiveness. Their team of coaches utilize career coaching for job advancement to unemployed and underemployed workers, and financial coaching to assist families become financially stable.
Recently, Rios and her team have been pinpointing the importance of behavioral science and integrating that concept into their work to progress the improvement in the lives of women and men in the DFW area.
Maria Rivera - Program Manager, Catholic Charities of Dallas
In her role, Maria oversees the program outcomes, partnerships, funding, and staff development needed to provide a solid foundation of financial stability services to clients.
In the continued partnership with CFT and the WFS model, Rivera has been able to effectively improve the way services were provided to clients. It led her team to take a holistic approach in making sure their clients had access to more than one service, since they were already engaged in services.
At the moment, Rivera is building a team that has a financial coaching expertise to bring to the families supported by WFS.
We hope that for those of you who work in increasing economic security, you too can use the information in this series to improve your services to clients, and for our broader community, we hope that you’ll learn more about some of the incredible nonprofits working to build a more thriving community for all and consider some of these organizations and their work.
Ashley McIver is senior philanthropy officer at Communities Foundation of Texas, where her focus is on economic security. Ashley oversees the Working Families Success Network, supporting local nonprofit agencies to increase their capacity to help struggling families in North Texas become more financially stable, gain meaningful work and develop economic mobility.
Want to learn more about CFT’s focus on Economic Security?
At Communities Foundation of Texas, we are deeply committed to making a profound and measurable impact in the economic success across the North Texas community. If you have questions on our work, or would like to learn how you could invest alongside us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.