DignityMoves Founder Elizabeth Funk recently reminded her team that the organization’s work in trying to solve homelessness was “literally a matter of life and death.” Indeed, right in Santa Barbara, California, one of DignityMove’s pilot locations for its transitional housing projects, four people believed to be living outside on a regular basis died in one week.
DignityMoves’ novel idea to lease unused land from cities and developers and place small ship container-like housing for the homeless on them, was a perfect fit to be one of the early impact projects The Knowledge Pledge could assist by sharing its knowledge.
In answer to Elizabeth’s request to TKP to help DignityMoves find ways to increase its relationship with its hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, TKP Communications suggested the DignityMoves leadership attend the paper’s town meeting the editor was having to discuss how to improve its coverage.
That led to Elizabeth inviting the paper’s editor to DignityMoves’ upcoming fundraiser, which he attended along with the paper’s opinion editor.
A 1,300 word piece in the Chronicle headlined, “San Francisco Embraces First Tiny Cabin Village” followed, reporting, “After years of resistance, San Francisco is finally jumping onto the trend of sheltering homeless people in tiny homes, with plans to install them on two parking lots about nine blocks away from City Hall.”
The story quoted Elizabeth as saying, “So many homeless people don’t want to go into congregate (group) shelters, and the tents have been a good outdoor alternative, but these cabins are a next big step. I believe when you give someone that kind of dignity you can get with your own room and a locking door, you’re keying them up for more success.”
Afterwards, Elizabeth told TKP it has been “incredibly helpful from the beginning, helping me think about the strategy, helping me think about how to pull together the right team.” But then more specifically, she said, one of the TKP signatories on our group “has been helpful in helping us think about how to announce ourselves” and “how to get the publicity and awareness that we need in order to grow the organization”
In a project engagement update interview, Elizabeth said TKP’s assistance in amplifying DignityMoves’ messaging is critical. “It gives us a lot of credibility,” she said. “As we're going into new cities and counties and trying to talk about really, quite frankly, an entirely new model for addressing homelessness, that credibility means a lot. It was super important that we have the support and the positive publicity from the Chronicle.”
Elizabeth said TKP “was very instrumental in helping me think about how to message them, how to literally communicate with them. It was quite successful.”
“We had a launch party about a month ago and the editor himself came and the main writer who writes about homelessness in California wrote a really, really supportive article,” she said. “All thanks to TKP’s advice.”
TKP’s engagement with DignityMoves will continue, focusing on helping Elizabeth bring together all the thought leaders in the space to engage the paper and make it feel like it’s a partner.
This directly answers the editor’s statement in his Town hall meeting that the paper wanted to hear from “the conveners” and explore ways to make the paper’s homelessness coverage more effective.
In her TKP update interview, Elizabeth said The Knowledge Pledge, with its “strategic thinking has been really quite visionary and helping us think about how to shape an ongoing relationship” with the media.
“I would absolutely recommend anyone use TKP’s pro bono services,” she said. “I think that especially when you're young, starting fresh as we are as a new organization, you really can't go it alone. You need the advice and the input, and quite frankly, the moral support of folks who have been business leaders and civic leaders.”
Standing just a few feet away from Chronicle editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz at the DignityMoves event, then State Assemblyman David Chiu said, “This is going to be a game-changer and my hope is at the end of this movie, these Chronicle guys over there are going to write a caption that says, 'San Francisco Finally Brings Down Homelessness With The Leadership of DignityMoves.’”