Washington Families Fund Systems Initiative Evaluation: 2012 interim report

Summary of key baseline and early implementation findings
Download report
Washington Families Fund Systems Initiative Evaluation: 2012 Interim Report

The Washington Families Fund (WFF) Systems Initiative is a $60 million comprehensive systems change intervention aimed at ending family homelessness. Implemented in three counties in the Puget Sound region of Washington State (King, Pierce, and Snohomish), the Initiative is guided by the Theory of Change that builds on proven and best practices as well as emerging new concepts from a number of communities across the United States. The Initiative, created over the course of several years by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), was approved in October 2007 and officially launched in 2009. Building Changes, a local nonprofit organization with a long history of working on homelessness issues at local, state, and federal levels, was designated in 2009 as the intermediary to operate the Initiative. The three communities were funded to conduct a three-stage planning process, culminating at the end of 2010 in multi-year implementation plans that are currently being put into action.1

Westat, a national research firm with extensive background in the evaluation of program and system-level interventions for homeless families, has been commissioned to conduct a longitudinal evaluation of both the implementation and outcomes of the Initiative. This first set of coordinated reports documents both the baseline status of the systems for homeless families in each of the counties prior to the Initiative and the implementation of the Initiative in its first two years after the launch (2009-11). The reports are intended to provide a foundation of understanding of the Initiative and to provide formative feedback to BMGF, Building Changes, and stakeholders in the individual counties.

The eight brief reports, all under the title, Washington Families Fund Systems Initiative Evaluation 2012 Interim Report, are available on They include the following:

Executive Summary
Summary of Key Baseline and Early Implementation Findings
I. The Role of the Funder
II. The Role of the Intermediary
III. The Role of the Evaluation
IV. The Role of the Counties: Promising Practices
V. Interagency Collaboration and Data-Driven Decision Making
VI. Advocacy

Three sets of appendices include additional description and analysis of the implementation of the Initiative in each of the Initiative counties (Appendices I A-C); the role of selected organizations in the system and in the Initiative (Appendices II A-G); and the list of key informants for Westat’s site visits in summer 2009 and February 2011 (Appendix III).

This report provides a summary of the key baseline and early implementation findings of the Initiative. It begins by providing a context for the findings, including the development of the Initiative, its Theory of Change, and current operational structure. A brief description of the evaluation methodology is then provided, highlighting the evaluation purpose and focus, design, and methods. The majority of the report provides a summary analysis and appraisal of the baseline status and the Initiative’s implementation to date within each county and recommendations to consider for each of the counties and for the overall Initiative.

  • 1

    Due to changes in the economic climate since the strategy was initially approved in 2007 and the length of time it took for the Initiative to unfold, BMGF has decided to extend the timeframe of the Initiative for an additional three years to allow for economic recovery and the complexities of the system change processes. The projects now will be implemented over the course of eight, rather than five, years.

Read next

Start with Us: Black youth in South King County & South Seattle

Conducted by CCER’s Road Map Project, Start With Us shows the need for systems to combat racial bias, promote positive school climates, encourage racial identity development, and listen more closely to students. It also includes new data on several dimensions of college readiness and post-secondary success.

Community and technical college report

This is the first report by CCER’s Road Map Project on the region’s community and technical colleges (CTCs), meant to inform educational improvement efforts by following a cohort of high school graduates on their three-year journey through seven local CTCs.

Understanding progress in systems reform through the lens of the baseline data

Mid-initiative assessment of the Washington Youth & Families Fund Systems Initiative