Back on My Feet

Organizational mission statement (50 words or less): 

Back on My Feet (BoMF) combats homelessness through running, community support, and workforce development resources. Our unique model demonstrates that if you first restore confidence, strength and self-esteem, individuals are better equipped to tackle the road ahead.

Brief description of organization (include key programs and recent achievements, 100 words or less):

 

BoMF recruits members from transitional housing and recovery centers. Members begin with a commitment to run 3 days a week at 5:30 am with a team of volunteers. This stage focuses on confidence, community, and accountability. After 30 days running and 90% attendance, members enter our Next Steps program, focused on finding sustainable employment and housing. Members develop a goal plan, attend workshops on financial literacy and job skills, and work with staff to find employment. Once a member achieves employment and housing, they become “alumni”. Since 2007 BoMF has helped nearly 1,500 individuals obtain employment and/or housing in Philadelphia.

Population served (25 words or less):

Individuals experiencing homelessness and/or recovering from substance abuse disorder. 83% Male, 17% Female. 72% Black, 20% White, 6% Hispanic or Latinx. 64% formerly incarcerated.

Geographic area(s) served: 

Philadelphia

In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is your organization’s work primarily? 

Economic Sustainability 

 

Does the organization already receive support from or otherwise engage life science companies? If so, how? 

No

Please outline existing volunteer opportunities or programs & initiatives that harness human capital including any current virtual volunteer events:

Back on My Feet welcomes volunteers in our morning runs as well as workforce development workshops. Whether a volunteer supports a member in their physical health or their economic health, they are key contributors to our vibrant community that believes in human potential. It is this community of supporters that help our members undertake the very difficult challenge of rebuilding their lives, moving out of homelessness towards a more sustainable life path.  Morning run volunteers currently participate at one of our 3 locations throughout the city: North Philadelphia, Point Breeze, and West Philadelphia. Morning runs occur from 5:30 – 6:30 am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The first stage of the Back on My Feet program focuses on physical and mental wellness: members (clients) participate in morning runs for one month. With energetic and supportive volunteers by their side, members develop greater confidence and self-esteem by achieving short-term wellness goals. Runs are typically 1-3 miles and can include walking. Members who maintain 90% attendance at morning runs then move into the Next Steps stage of programming, focused on obtaining employment and housing. We welcome volunteers at workshops that help prepare members for success. Topics include but are not limited to financial literacy (e.g. how to set a budget, understanding credit, etc) interview skills, resume writing, and digital literacy.

 

Please outline proposed or potential future volunteer opportunities or programs & initiatives that harness human capital including any planned virtual volunteer events:  

Back on My Feet will continue morning runs at our three locations as health guidelines permit. It is our intent to re-open our fourth team in the Bella Vista neighborhood in the 2021. This location is currently on hold due to our facility partner’s current COVID guidelines which restrict engagement with outside service providers. We have pivoted our traditional in-person workshops to be virtually based. Virtual workshops have included mock interviews, resume review, and maintaining your mental health. We add workshops as needed to respond to the current climate and welcome volunteers as their skills relate to the need. Specifically, we hope to develop a more robust digital literacy curriculum to help members become more competitive in the modern workforce. When health guidelines permit we will resume in-person workshops.

GRANT REQUEST 

Please signify the type of support you are requesting from Life Science Cares: 

Operations/General Support

Project Title: 

Back on My Feet Philadelphia

Total Project Budget (if applicable): 

$328,479

Requested Amount [note that first year partners will generally be awarded $10k]: 

$10,000

In which Life Science Cares Area of Focus is the requested project’s work? 

Economic Sustainability

Description of Need (What is the issue you plan to address? What are the demographics and number of people you plan to serve, if applicable?): 

Back on My Feet seeks to build a more diverse, healthy, and prosperous community in Philadelphia in which all individuals can move up the socioeconomic ladder out of homelessness and poverty into sustainable lives. Over the last 13 years Back on My Feet Philadelphia has helped over 1,500 individuals move out of homelessness into sustainable employment and housing. Our unique model demonstrates that establishing self-esteem and confidence through a healthy community, combined with workforce development programming, successfully powers individuals out of homelessness and poverty. This work has become even more urgent as a result of COVID-19, which triggered unprecedented lay-offs in industries many of our program graduates pursue such as hospitality, construction, healthcare, and general services. Current forecasts project that the labor market will not return to pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2022. This has compounded an already challenging environment for those living at or below the poverty line given the lack of affordable low-income housing in Philadelphia. It is critical to help individuals experiencing or at-risk of becoming homeless by inviting them into a supportive community, offering opportunities to upskill to be competitive in the job market, and connecting them with higher-paying positions such that they can secure housing. 

We recruit individuals experiencing homelessness (who we call “members”) from transitional housing shelters and inpatient addiction recovery facilities throughout Philadelphia. Over 60 percent of members in the program have identified issues of drug and/or alcohol addiction and/or incarceration. 100 percent of individuals in the program live below the poverty line and a high percentage of these individuals also live below the deep poverty line. 83% Male, 17% Female. 72% Black, 20% White, 6% Hispanic or Latinx.

Specific Activities (Please detail what activities you intend to undertake as a result of the grant. Include information about service delivery and timelines.): 

Back on My Feet members begin their journey with a commitment to run three days a week at 5:30 am with a team of volunteers. This unique stage focuses on progress, commitment, discipline, confidence and being part of a community. We empower members to leverage this confidence to succeed in upskilling and securing and maintaining living wage employment. As one member explained, “If you can get up at 5:30 in the morning and run, you can get up at 5:30 in the morning and go to work.” After 30 days and while maintaining 90% attendance, members qualify to participate in our Next Steps program. Next Steps focuses on preparing for and securing quality employment and stable housing. Members participate in one-on-one goal planning sessions with Back on My Feet staff, as well as group workshops on topics including but not limited to basic financial literacy and budgeting, resume writing, interview skills, job searches, computer skills and more. Volunteers from the community as well as corporate partners are welcome to lend their expertise in these workshops. Additionally, Back on My Feet staff work directly with employers throughout the city to create opportunities for members to begin jobs and to advance on their career paths.                                 

 

In Next Steps members can also apply for financial aid tailored to their specific needs and goals. These funds help members overcome a one-time barrier to employment or housing. Examples of fund usage include (but are not limited to): reinstating a driver’s license, paying for professional certifications, acquiring work tools or uniforms, GED-prep and testing, or paying for an apartment security deposit. Funds are paid directly to the third-party vendor by Back on My Feet. This is critical to jumpstarting members on their new life trajectory.  Once a member achieves employment and housing, they become “alumni”, and can still participate in workshops to continue their upward mobility into healthier, more economically stable lives.

Evaluation (What are the anticipated results? What methods will you use to measure your progress? What does success look like?): 

In 2021 Back on My Feet will help 60 individuals experiencing homelessness find sustainable employment. Back on My Feet is dedicated to consistent tracking and improvement and evaluates success using qualitative and quantitative metrics that assess both program outputs and program outcomes. Data on members is tracked through Salesforce. Metrics tracked include but are not limited to: number of 1:1 goal planning sessions, workshops completed, morning runs attended, professional certifications obtained, and starting wage for new employment.  Our National Salesforce Database Manager oversees the data collection, analysis, and reporting process. Additionally, we seek qualitative feedback through in-person interviews and written surveys for a full picture of program outcomes.

Does this project already have support from life science companies? If so, what is the nature of that support? 

No

 

EFFECTIVENESS, COLLABORATION, INNOVATION

Is there any other information not captured elsewhere regarding your organization, project, program or initiatives that you believe will help the Life Science Cares team in evaluating your request? 

Every $1 invested in Back on My Feet returns nearly $2.50 to the local community through increased economic output from employment and reduction in costs for shelter, medical services, incarceration and addiction treatment. On average, 83% of members are still employed after 15 months at a job, 44% see a wage increase within the first 6 months and 21% have received a promotion. Participants in the Back on My Feet program are hired a $12.75/hour versus the national minimum wage of $7.25/hour.

 

How does your organization or program differentiate from other organizations doing similar work? Are you executing or proposing to executive an innovation in program or service? 

Back on My Feet is the only national nonprofit that utilizes running and exercise as a tool in assisting individuals experiencing homelessness to rebuild their lives. Likewise, our program is unique in that we combine traditional workforce development programming within a case management model. What sets us apart is the level of community involvement and the personal transformation that members gain through running (or walking). Running within a community 3 days a week creates stability and camaraderie. As a result, members develop social-emotional skills essential for success: self-reliance, goal setting, accountability and discipline. The transformation happens when our members connect the dots between these new skills and experiences to fulfilling employment and a meaningful, healthy life.