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Back on My Feet Philadelphia

Back on My Feet

Back on My Feet Philadelphia Logo

Program Website
Year:
2018
State:
Pennsylvania
Winner Status:
Applicant
Program Type:
Program
Target Population:
Individuals experiencing Housing Insecurity
Setting:
Community

Program Description

Back on My Feet Philadelphia’s innovative approach to ending homelessness uses the power of running, a community of support and access to essential housing and employment resources. Back on My Feet recruits members at homeless and residential facilities and begins with a commitment to run three days a week at 5:30 am. After 30 days in the program, members with 90% attendance earn the opportunity to move into the second phase of the program called Next Steps, which provides educational support, job training programs, employment partnership referrals and housing resources. In Next Steps, members work with BoMF program staff to develop a personal road map to independence. Each member attends financial literacy classes and job skills training. Members can earn financial assistance to remove barriers to employment and housing such as work supplies, transportation and security deposits. Members who achieve employment and housing become Alumni Members. By combating homelessness through our innovative program, Back on My Feet proves that there is hope, that individuals can achieve things they never thought possible, and that there are people who will support them along the way.

Creativity

Oftentimes BoMF receives the question “how can someone get out of homelessness by simply running?” The creative model of BoMF proves that running, coupled with a supportive community, can propel individuals towards a self-sufficient state. Running offers both a mental outlet for individuals experiencing trauma as well as a physical outlet (i.e. lowered weight, cholesterol, blood pressure). It offers an outlet from the negativity shelter life and allows individuals the chance for positive socialization and reintegration into society – literally, one step at a time. The supportive community environment of BoMF builds a space of accountability, hard work, dedication, and investment in both personal and communal goals. BoMF’s unique and welcoming team culture promotes equality, dignity and respect, regardless of race, background, age, etc. BoMF uses the motto “no one gets left behind” to describe the organization’s approach in both running and in life.

Leadership

The BoMF program cultivates a unique culture of leadership within the members of its community. Members in the program who are experiencing homelessness often become leaders in their shelter/facility as they model hard work, commitment, dedication and a positive attitude because of their involvement with BoMF. By getting up for the 5:30am morning runs with the BoMF team, ensuring that no one gets left behind on the run and positively encouraging volunteers and fellow members on their team, they prove that an individual can be a valued contributor to themselves and to others, despite not having a home or living stability. BoMF morning runs are led by a core group of volunteer Team Leaders. They coordinate social events, track mileage and attendance, build team moral and culture, facilitate transportation to races, and plan routes to ensure that each member exists in a positive, safe, and inviting environment on the team.

Sustainability

BoMF has developed both a 5-year local and national plan for the organization, including projected costs for new expansions and service offerings as well as a plan for resource development and funding. Simultaneously, BoMF has been developing a strong engagement strategy to sustain and grow current partnerships with shelters/facilities and housing, education, employment partners, with a strong focus on improvements in workforce development services. BoMF conducted a study on the organization’s economic impact, showing that for every $1 invested in BoMF, there is a $2.50 return to the local community in employment and reduction costs for shelter, medical services, and incarceration and addiction treatment. Studies like the latter have been shown to increase foundation, corporate and individual funds given to local chapters of BoMF, like Philadelphia. Lastly, BoMF Philadelphia will be developing a detailed succession plan for local leadership to ensure the sustainability of organizational knowledge, relationships and beyond.

Replicability

Back on My Feet, an idea started here in Philadelphia, has become a successful and replicable program now existing in 12 cities across the country. Through the support of a National leadership team, local staff committed to the program, and an incredible network of over 3,000 volunteers, the program continues to grow and share its innovative approach nationally. Additionally, replicability also lies in environment of accountability within the organization’s model. As members show the discipline, commitment and hard work at each 5:30 am run (with 90% attendance), BoMF is able to easily connect members with resources in housing, education and employment. As members prove that they can show up on time consistency, BoMF is able to become a strong reference for employment, housing and education partners for members.

Results/Outcomes

BoMF serves142 individuals per year through our running program. Each individual that joins comes from one of nine partnering residential facility across Philadelphia county, ranging from women’s and in-patient facilities in West Philadelphia, a recovery center in Point Breeze, and emergency and transitional shelters located across Center City and North Philadelphia area. BoMF conducts monthly health assessments to determine improvements to each member’s heath in the running program. 30, 60, and 90 day assessments have shown significant decreases in blood pressure, weight and smoking. Attitudinal surveys also share that members are 2.5 times more likely to report higher self-esteem than the general urban homeless population. Once individuals have entered into the second phase of the program called Next Steps, BoMF assists over 75 members in obtaining employment and/or education/training and over 40 members in obtaining safe and affordable housing. Cumulatively, BoMF has served over 1,000 individuals in over 10 years.