When a community addresses a systemic problem with innovative solutions, people take notice. CJP’s Anti-Poverty Initiative (API) is a case in point. Thanks to the critically important support of our donors, we have helped more than 5,000 people find jobs, receive emergency assistance, and qualify for public benefits through the API. Today, communities across the nation are seeking to understand what we are doing differently and how they can replicate this model.
With a shared commitment to transforming how we understand and address poverty, we have been working in partnership with Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Boston, Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Jewish Family Service of Metrowest, Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), and Yad Chessed. Together, we created a cross-agency data collection system to fully understand who we were helping and what they needed.
The data revealed root causes of Jewish poverty, including mental health challenges and job instability. It also highlighted how difficult it is for people in crisis to navigate between important but unconnected social programs and access all the services and public benefits available.
To alleviate these problems, we created a centralized intake system across our social service agencies. Today, people in need can reach out directly to an agency or call The CJP Warmline (1-800-CJP-9500) to be connected to a compassionate, knowledgeable caseworker who coordinates services between agencies.
Ninety percent of families and individuals who have entered this system in acute crisis have shown positive improvement toward stability within nine months. Additionally, 68% of clients who have received employment support have been placed in new jobs within six months.
Beyond crisis management, we seek to provide a pathway for people to gain long-term stability. We are expanding assistance by piloting a Housing Stability Fund. Eligible clients receive three to eight months of rental assistance while they work with a case manager to reduce their debt, budget resources, and increase their income. Additionally, JVS recently hired a career coach who specializes in helping clients with mental health challenges secure and maintain employment.
As interest in the Anti-Poverty Initiative has grown across the country, we’ve presented our findings at multiple forums, including The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation’s first National Convening on Jewish Poverty. Our hope is that we can continue sharing those learnings, and that many communities can use our model to help more people in need.