Dr. Sally Morris Cote sits in a meeting with NSLI clients

Client Spotlight: The Integrated Services Alliance

People in need of social services often face a siloed sector, with little coordination among the organizations and programs who serve those seeking self-sufficiency. Integrated services is a strategy for breaking down these silos and simplifying access to a range of benefits and programs across traditional service domains.

From June 2019 through June 2021, the Riley Institute conducted a comprehensive study funded by the Graham Foundation of frontline work in integrated services to identify best practices for supporting individuals pursuing self-sufficiency. Three local organizations — United Ministries, Foothills Family Resources, and Center for Community Services — joined efforts in an Integrated Services Alliance (ISA) to explore and compare their program designs against each other and recent research.

Building Self-Sufficiency is the result of the two-year study. The findings of this report, issued in June 2021, challenge the traditional understanding of how nonprofit organizations can help people navigate a path out of poverty and suggest innovative ways to measure the outcomes of programs that accompany people on the journey to self-sufficiency.

Read report summary

Read full report

Click here to view a list of sources from the Building Self-Sufficiency report that are in the public domain.

The Study

The study proceeded in two phases.

In Phase 1, the Riley Institute worked with each organization individually to create program logic models and convene group meetings to discuss similarities and differences in program design. In addition, the Riley Institute delved into and summarized the latest research on poverty, self-sufficiency, and integrated services in an internal report issued to ISA and the Graham Foundation in June 2020.

In Phase 2, the Riley Institute guided each organization through a critical review of their current program outcomes with an eye towards setting outcomes more aligned with and representative of their intended impacts. Having identified coaching of participants as the key feature shared by all three organizations’ self-sufficiency programs, the Riley Institute reviewed the latest research on coaching and, combining it with the earlier internal report on poverty, self-sufficiency, and integrated services, created a public-facing report—Building Self-Sufficiency: Understanding the Effects of Poverty and How Three Greenville Nonprofit Organizations Are Accompanying People on the Journey to Stability.

See below for a full timeline detailing the progression of the study.

Timeline of ISA project

The Partners

The Center for Community Services

The Center for Community Services (CCS) was founded in 1997 and serves as the primary nonprofit in Southern Greenville County that engages the challenges of systemic poverty. CCS unites several area nonprofits under one banner, providing a hub in the Golden Strip where people who face challenging financial circumstances can come for both immediate assistance and long-term help in breaking the cycle of poverty. CCS addresses four core areas that profoundly impact a family’s financial situation: education, employment, financial stability, and school readiness for children. Staff treat each person they encounter with dignity and work to set the stage for client success in improving their own situation.

Foothills Family Resources

Foothills Family Resources logo. It depicts a sketch of a mountain range with the sun falling behind it.

Foothills Family Resources (FFR) is a 35-year-old nonprofit organization located in Slater, South Carolina. The mission of FFR is to improve the quality of life in Northern Greenville County by providing residents a gateway to comprehensive services, programs, and resources that support, educate, and empower. FFR focuses stabilization services toward individuals experiencing poverty and/or in need. Services include, but are not limited to: SNAP, WIC, Medicaid application assistance, Food Pantry, Rent/Utility Assistance, mental health support, GED training, and vocational rehabilitation counseling. In the Center for Working Families, FFR provides one-on-one, short-term coaching and soft skill development.

United Ministries

Founded in 1970 to meet the crisis needs of Greenville County residents, United Ministries (UM) has evolved to focus on developing the potential each family possesses to become self-sufficient—and even to thrive. While short-term needs continue to be met by direct financial aid, homeless day shelter services, and a congregational shelter network for homeless families, the majority of the agency’s resources are invested in people working toward long-term education, employment, housing, and financial wellness goals. In the agency’s Striving to Thrive program, staff partner with individuals to identify personal strengths and goals and to develop and implement action plans to help families thrive.