Phoenix Family empowers people living in low-income housing communities with the on-site support they need to gain stability and achieve self-sufficiency.
Cliff and Jonathan Cohn founded Phoenix Family in 1999. The Cohns started Phoenix Family with the simple goal of making life
better for people living in low-income housing communities. After dedicating
their lives to the building and managing of low-income housing communities, the
Cohns’ recognized that, while a stable, safe and decent home holds enormous
possibilities for a low-income family striving to chart a more secure and
hopeful future, for most, that is not enough. Most need more than housing to
build personal and financial assets and overcome barriers to success – they
also require services where they live.
Since then, the team at Phoenix Family has dedicated themselves to building communities where poverty is alleviated, communities are healthy and all people can develop their full potential. Today, Phoenix Family provides programs and services to more 5,000 people daily. Because the most the most effective way to help children, families and seniors improve their self-sufficiency and stabilize lives, Phoenix Family works with more than 20 property owners to provide programs at 35 low-income housing communities. We believe adding supportive programs in low-income housing communities improves the economic status of residents, transforms neighborhoods and stabilizes lives.
A stable, safe and decent home holds enormous possibilities for a low-income family striving to chart a more secure and hopeful future. But, like millions of low-income families across the U.S., the people we serve need more than housing to build personal and financial assets and overcome barriers to success; they also require services where they live. That is where Phoenix Family comes in.
Our mission is easy: we empower people living in low-income housing communities with the on-site support they need to gain stability and achieve self-sufficiency.
How we fulfill our mission is more challenging. Poverty is a complex problem; and there is no one model — no one answer — that will fix all. The simple way would be to look at one part of the problem and then to try and solve that part. But that’s not what Phoenix Family does. We see each person as an individual and therefore the solutions must be personal and tailored to fit.
In 2016, Phoenix Family accomplished several key goals:
Phoenix Family is committed to deepening the impact we have on our current communities and residents, and to expanding our impact to those who still need our services. Under this consideration, our most pressing needs are:
Since we began operations in 1999, we have made huge strides forward in our organizational capacity. This past year, we completed a board redevelopment process, strategic plan, and continued to increase our funding diversity. We are also mid-way through our fourth year of HIKE (Help to Instill the Key to Education) and we're seeing an impact that we could not have imagined.
The challenges facing Phoenix Family are similar to other nonprofits with rapid growth. Phoenix Family continues to focus is measuring our delivery model/practices against national best practices. Continuing to hold ourselves to those standards, to innovate new ways to meet increasing needs, and focusing on outcomes will increase our ability to meet the needs of our residents and help them meet evolving changes.
As people age, they invest more time and effort in meeting their basic needs. This combined with limited income means that many of those we serve are forced to make critical choices between paying for health care services, food, rent, utilities or other daily expenses. Phoenix Family's Senior Empowerment Program combats the barriers those we serve face in their daily life. Many, due to financial constraints, lack of transportation, physical and/or mental handicaps and a host of other factors, are isolated socially, physically and financially from the community at-large. A person’s quality of life is determined by more than his or her physical health status. By addressing the root causes, we help those we serve to find lasting solutions to complex problems. Our programs combine to promote independence, encourage greater self-reliance in order to increase participants’ ability to live active, independent lives and avoid early institutionalism.
Our short-term goals are that through our health and education programming, case management and social activities, older adults in our program will regain (or maintain) a sense of well-being and independence and a renewed connection to their communities, allowing them to age in place with dignity and choice.
Long-term success is defined by residents over the age of 60 being able to remain living independently and to age in place as long as possible, avoiding early institutionalization.
Currently, Phoenix Family uses an internal database to track the impact of our programs and the types of
programs offered to each resident. We measure a variety of individual indicators, including Activities of Daily Living Scores (ADLs), services requested and used, and outcomes from specific programs.
Success is defined by participation rates, and resident satisfaction. In addition to individual case management services, in 2015, we provided 11,812 food pantries providing fresh produce and other perishable food items to our older adult residents, 2,600 free on-site health care checks, and 3,224 free entitlement and benefits (Medicare, Medicaid) help sessions.
HIKE is an innovative literacy program which helps children reach grade-appropriate reading level as quickly as possible and, at the minimum, continue to read at level in the future.
Since literacy is about more than being able to read a book, HIKE incorporates literacy into everything we do. In a literacy-infused program, children are encouraged to “play” with language, vocabulary and word meanings. And, when children are allowed to play with words, they come to see literacy as something they own, setting the stage for leaps in literacy proficiency.
Since its launch, HIKE has served more than 248
children and trained more than 225 volunteer Reading Coaches. The impacts of
the program on participants has been significant:
The overall goal of HIKE is to have 90% of the children in our program reading at grade-level by 2020 in order to set the stage for higher high school graduation rates.
In order to define a baseline, comparative measurement of program efficiency and effectiveness, all children enrolled in HIKE participate in the i-Ready online diagnostic assessment three times a year: July, January, and May. In addition, pre- and post-survey, focusing on measuring attitudes toward reading and positive adult relationships, is conducted. Moreover, all youth track the of the number of pages read recreationally through program reading journals to measure reading activities not accounted through the survey of reading attitudes. The senior program staff analyzes data on a quarterly basis, allowing us to compare the HIKE program to the non-HIKE program to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of the program and to make any changes needed before launching it in additional sites.
Examples of the success of the program are seen daily. Children, who before the program started, listed reading as one of their least favorite activities, are excited to go the Reading Labs - often asking if it's their turn. They're excited to see their Reading Coaches and to talk about a new book that they're reading or to share a good grade that they got on a test. J. is one of those kids. J. just turned nine and, when tested in July, he read at a low-first grade level. In the beginning, whenever he heard that his Reading Coach was here, he would sit down and cry. Reading in front of someone else embarrassed him. When you talked with him about it, he would get angry and proclaim "I can't read! Why are you making me?" But we all stuck with him. And then one day, his coach found a book about sharks. And that book changed J's life. J. still struggles to read, but he voraciously reads any shark book and has increased his reading level by 1.5 grades in just nine months.
Phoenix Family’s programming revolves around the simple belief
that in order to help people living in low-income housing communities, programs
must be people-oriented. Each of the communities where Phoenix Family offers
services faces unique challenges and each has its own set of needs. Phoenix
Family's programs, while addressing similar issues, are designed so that they
can be modified in order to best meet the needs of the individuals living in a
particular housing community. Our programs support families in all stages of
life – for children who need help with schoolwork, there are on-site community
centers. For mothers who need help finding a new job, there are computer labs
and support people there to help with resumes. For families who need food, there
are food pantries. Phoenix Family is about more than offering people a place to
stay – we offer our residents the tools and opportunities they need to make a
home for themselves and their families. We believe that a person's quality of
life depends on more than just his or her physical health. So our services take
a holistic approach and enhance the physical, emotional, and overall wellness
of each resident and each family. Because of Phoenix Family, our residents have
someone to turn to when they are in crisis ... when rent is due and the
checking account is empty ... when a job is lost, but it’s cold outside and the
heating bill needs to be paid...when dinner is to be served and there is no
food in the pantry.
Ms. Givner received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Iowa and her law degree from Drake University Law School in 1997. In addition, she is licensed to practice law in the State of Missouri. Ms. Givner is the founding executive director of Phoenix Family. Under her leadership, Phoenix Family has 42 individuals providing services to children, families and seniors who reside in low-income housing communities. Ms. Givner has served as a a member of the Heart of America Family Services Adults and Children Together Advisory Board, Vice-President of the Johnson County Drug and Alcohol Council Board of Directors, and serves as a field instructor for the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare and University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Social Work, and Avila University.
Phoenix Family collaborates with more than 200 community partners. The following list highlights a few of our community partnerships:
Phoenix Family maintains an independent board of directors that provides governance, direction, and management to the Executive Director. The Executive Director of Phoenix Family is the administrator and manager of the social services programs that occur at the multi-family and elderly housing communities. Currently there are 32 housing communities, located in 13 cities in Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa which provide on-site community programs to the residents living within these designated housing areas. The Executive Director is responsible for the maintenance of fiscal records; creating and monitoring the housing community budgets; fundraising; and supervision of the daily operations of the social service programs.
Phoenix Family maintains an independent board of directors that provides governance, direction, and management to the Executive Director. The Executive Director of Phoenix Family is the administrator and manager of all programs. Currently Phoenix Family provides services in 34 low-income housing communities in 13 cities in Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa. Each community provides on-site services and programs. The Executive Director is responsible for the maintenance of fiscal records; creating and monitoring housing community budgets; fundraising; and supervision of the daily operations of the social service programs.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Greater Kansas City Community Foundation
1055 Broadway Blvd., Suite 130, Kansas City, Missouri 64105
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