coalitions & TA providers

Dear Coalition Staff & Technical Assistance Providers,
We share these recommendations with you as colleagues and comrades in this work. Many of us who have drafted these recommendations work or have worked at anti-violence Coalitions and as technical assistance (TA) providers. We have seen how Coalitions and TA providers can be supportive to advocates and organizations, and unfortunately, we are familiar with the limitations. 
Coalitions and TA providers have an opportunity to set the tone and lead by example for the organizations they support. We hope that you take these recommendations with the spirit of which they are intended: constructive feedback to make our work better. 
We also encourage you to review our recommendations for Anti-Violence WorkersOrganizational Leaders, and Funders as there is overlap in your role to support these positions in making the anti-violence field better for survivors, organizations, and communities.

1. Advocate for Increased Funding and Wages: Technical assistance providers can, at times, also operate as funders. When administering grant funding, you can use your power for good by creating wage requirements that ensure front-line staff make at least a living wage. In our assessment, 80% of anti-violence workers selected “better pay” as something that would make them more likely to stay at their job. Technical assistance providers can also leverage their policy influence to encourage legislators to allocate more funds, improving pay and workforce, positively impacting retention rates.

2. Build Networks: We recommend that Coalitions and TA providers build more connections and power across regions. It's common for Coalitions to convene service providers across the state they serve, or by a specific geographical region. Meeting on a smaller, more regional scale could open up potential for building power as we connect more intentionally and share resources. We also recommend going beyond geography as a way to connect, and instead suggest finding ways to convene across issues and topics. Coalitions and TA Providers could build working groups and multi-disciplinary teams to explore topics and build resources.

3. Promote Alternatives to Carceral Systems:  The reliance on carceral systems has overwhelmingly failed survivors and it does not benefit us to continue working with them or within them. In our assessment, 52% of anti-violence workers identified “lack of viable alternatives for clients and survivors” as a challenge or reason they left their job, and uplifted the desire to move away from carceral systems. We should shift our focus to alternative approaches, including restorative justice, healing justice, and transformative justice practices.
  • Utilize the Creative Interventions Toolkit to learn more about community-based interventions and transformative justice

  • Read the book Beyond Survival which provides tools and tangible examples of using transformative justice practices in communities

4. Support a Racially Diverse Workforce: It’s no secret that white women are overrepresented in anti-violence leadership positions. It’s important to regularly evaluate the composition of your staff and board to ensure it is reflective of your community and represents the interests of survivors and anti-violence workers. If you are bringing Black, Indigenous, and people of color into mostly white organizations, they are more than likely going to experience racism. You need to make sure your organization culture supports deep work being done on a personal, interpersonal, and organizational level. When racism does happen, the organization must take these acts seriously and act accordingly.  You can work with a consultant to improve your hiring processes and ensure your current policies and supervisory practices support the safety and growth of people of color. As a Coalition and TA provider, you have the responsibility to set the example. You must also make sure your organization is diverse enough to provide culturally responsive training and technical assistance to the communities you support.

5. Prioritize Accessibility in Budgets: Ensure that your organization has budget allocations that support a commitment to accessibility. This includes setting funds aside for translators and interpreters to meet the needs of anyone who uses your services, but also for staff. It’s important to make workplaces accessible for neurodiverse people and people with disabilities. As a TA provider, you can lead by example and ask about access needs of participants. Consider accessibility from the planning stage to ensure events and services are accessible to everyone.

6. Prioritize Survivorship Leadership: Many anti-violence workers are survivors of violence themselves, or care about someone who is. 60% of advocates who completed our assessment identified their survivorship as inspiration to work in the anti-violence movement. Another survey of advocates conducted by RAFT found a similar figure, with 57% of participants indicating they are survivors of sexual or domestic violence. For too long, it has been implied that we should have a boundary between our survivorship and the work we do. We think this is a mistake that doesn’t allow for advocates to show up as their full selves, and disconnects us from the communities we serve. The professionalization of the anti-violence field has discouraged staff from being vocal about their survivorship– workers should not feel ashamed to share their survivorship if they choose to. This can help us reconnect with our grassroots origins. This is why we must adopt a survivor-led approach, centering survivors’ voices in all decisions, while equitably compensating them for their expertise and leadership. Additionally, be sure there is paid time off for employees who experience sexual or domestic violence incidents – unfortunately, staff may experience violence while employed at your organization. Coalitions and TA Providers can model this for the organizations and communities they support.

7. Invest in Leadership Development: While professional development is important for all roles of an organization, it is especially needed for leaders. Coalitions and TA Providers should invest in leadership development opportunities for managers and executive directors of membership programs. These trainings can foster necessary skills for effective leadership, resulting in healthy and supportive organizational cultures. We encourage you to contract with leaders who set an example for the field, prioritizing those from historically underserved communities. This also includes creating programs for staff who are interested in pursuing leadership positions, as there is currently a decline in people who are interested in nonprofit leadership

8. Take Accountability for the Moment of Truth Letter: In June of 2020, forty-seven state and territorial coalitions signed onto the Moment of Truth Letter, which details the harm caused by traditional anti-violence institutions against BIPOC communities, and articulates a commitment to divest from the criminal legal system and instead centering the Black Lives Matter movement in fulfilling their vision of liberation. We know from firsthand experience that this did not result in much change in the field. We want to know: what have you done since then to divest from the criminal legal system? How are you supporting the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement? In what ways are you listening to and centering BIPOC-led groups, organizations, and communities? How are you working towards a vision of liberation? If your organization signed on to this letter, but has not followed through in the way you had said you would, now is the time to hold ourselves accountable.

9. Lead by Example: As Coalitions and TA providers, we have the responsibility to lead by example. This is inclusive of when we offer trainings, resources, and examples to anti-violence organizations. While we may not be able to implement everything we recommend, because we might not provide direct services or work with a local community, we can share examples of people and organizations who are utilizing best practices. We can also model what an equitable, supportive, and healthy workplace culture looks, sounds, and feels like. We can only hope that it inspires others to follow our lead.

Everyday we have the opportunity to support anti-violence workers and their organizations, ultimately benefiting survivors and communities. We hope you will join us in this journey of setting an example of what creating a thriving anti-violence field can be.
You have the power to create change. We believe in you,

The We Deserve Better Project Team

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