Building Community Resilience:
"BCR Oregon is looking to regional approaches where community members and leaders are defining and building community resilience in a way that fits for them. We are learning lessons about how to work within not upon community and establishing goals and objectives centered around inherent strengths, practicality and authenticity."
CEO, Trillium Group
Oregon Network Partners
- Trillium Family Services
- 3toPhD: Concordia University, Faubion School, Kaiser Permanente, and Trillium
- Oregon Public Health Institute
- Self Enhancement Inc
- The Oregon Alliance of Children’s Programs
- The Oregon Department of Health and Human Services
- Catholic Community Services
- Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare
- Boys & Girls Aid
- Oregon Health Authority
- Trauma Informed Oregon
Oregon partners have collaborated to establish a statewide Steering Committee that is working to operationalize the BCR process through the development of measurable goals and objectives. Specifically, the statewide cohort is exploring how to scale two groundbreaking initiatives -- Fostering Hope and 3toPhD. Fostering Hope is a neighborhood-based collective impact initiative designed to strengthen families, mobilize neighborhoods and promote optimum child and youth development. It is a partnership of government, public, and private organizations (one of whom is BCR Oregon partner Catholic Community Services) joining together with the common goal of ensuring that every child and adult in every neighborhood grows up in a safe, stable, nurturing home, enjoys good health, success in school or work and continues to financial sufficiency. The 3toPhD framework demonstrates that education is much more than just tests, lesson plans, and classrooms. It is a holistic environment that enables students to thrive, one that empowers students and families with all the tools they need to learn and grow, like nutrition, healthcare, and clothing. This groundbreaking program takes education beyond the classroom by nurturing students’ whole selves, leading not with quotas and test scores but with compassion and heart.
The Community Context: Greater Portland
The ‘Pair of ACEs’ in the Greater Portland area present themselves in several ways. Displacement due to gentrification, particularly in historically minority communities, including North and Southeast Portland, are a cause of stress and community dislocation. Many longtime residents – who don’t have the resources to stay in gentrifying neighborhoods where rents have grown exponentially, and the culture has changed drastically – are being forced to relocate far from their original homes or slipping into homelessness. Portland was recently found to be the most rapidly gentrifying large city in the nation according to a study by Governing Magazine. In response to the large numbers of families and individuals displaced by this massive disruption of neighborhoods, the city was forced in 2015 to declare a State of Emergency on Housing and Homelessness. The emergency declaration was necessary as demand for shelter outpaced the city’s ability to provide temporary housing. The emergency order lifted the ban on sidewalk camping and tent cities acknowledging that many families had nowhere else to turn. In addition to neighborhood disruption, in 2017, Portland was the site of a violent hate crime that shocked the nation but is only the latest incident in the state’s long-history of white supremacist activity and systemic racism.
While these challenges exist, Portland also has essential strengths and assets that the local BCR coalition is lifting up and building upon including a strong human rights activist community, a state-wide trauma-informed care collaborative, and health-supporting policies such as a robust and innovative Medicaid system that supports trauma-informed practices.
The Role of BCR
Prior to adopting the BCR process, Trillium launched a series of statewide convenings in 2014 that centered around ACEs, trauma informed care, and working across sectors that interact with and serve families and children. Realizing the utility and power of the BCR process, Trillium adopted it as an organizing platform in 2015, and held a Social Impact Summit around it in 2016. This summit was the catalyst for what has become a broad network throughout Oregon that is beginning to use the Building Community Resilience process. By 2019, members and partners established a statewide Steering Committee that is presently receiving technical assistance from the BCR National Team to operationalize the BCR process associated with specific initiatives through the development of measurable goals and objectives.
Schools as a Hub for Wellbeing
As Kim Scott, CEO of Trillium Group, puts it, “Years ago, we identified schools as being the future wellness hubs of our communities.” Trillium’s trauma-informed and Sanctuary work led it to join the 3toPhD consortium, which includes Concordia University and Faubion School, a pre-K through 8th grade Portland Public School. Ninety percent of students at the Faubion School live in public housing or trailer parks, and roughly 20% of the population is homeless. 3toPhD aims to create safer, healthier and more educated communities, working to support prenatal care through “pursuing one’s highest dreams.” The 3toPhD efforts are designed to close the opportunity gap and help every child reach his or her greatest potential. A hallmark of the program’s focus is community engagement. Incorporating the BCR approach, the 3toPhD partners have incorporated a culture of equity, safety and ‘radical inclusion’ of everyone in the broader school community that is boosting student outcomes – including a move to positive, instead of punitive, responses to student behavioral issues that has improved reading scores and reduced absenteeism. The school’s culture of self-care and collective support for students, teachers, and families has grown into a thriving community. Trillium currently provides mental health support in 120 schools across the state and organizational Leadership continues to work to expand these life-saving programs and services into new communities and school districts.
Higher Education as an Anchor Institution
The work of BCR partner Concordia University illustrates the critical role that colleges and universities can play as “anchor institutions” in their communities. Anchor institutions are rooted in communities and apply their varied resources to improve wellbeing in surrounding neighborhoods. In the case of Concordia, the university was able to use its financial, intellectual, and human resources – including students, faculty and staff – to support Faubion School and the broader community. Concordia’s role as an anchor institution culminated in the opening of the new “Faubion + Concordia” building in the fall of 2017 – that includes a 3toPhD Kaiser Permanente Wellness Center; mental and behavioral health care providers; a food club that accepts cash and electronic benefits providing a convenient outlet for school families to obtain nutritious, low-cost food; an early childhood education center; specially designed student “maker spaces” that encourage learning, experimentation and creativity, including for Science Technology Education Arts Mathematics (STEAM) education; one-on-one tutoring; and other supportive “wrap around” services. Concordia helped to raise capital for the new building, utilized the skills and passion of their students, faculty and staff to increase Faubion’s teaching & learning capacity, and develop 3toPhD with the potential of becoming a national model.
Keep Oregon Well
In addition to the programmatic work with 3toPhD, Trillium Group launched and leads a statewide public advocacy campaign aimed at reducing stigma and opening a conversation around mental and behavioral health, as well as equity and inclusion, called Keep Oregon Well. This work is an extension of the commitment to build a trauma-informed community by resetting media and societal norms to foster more open engagement around factors associated with the Pair of ACEs. The Keep Oregon Well in Schools program kicked off with Trillium’s expansion into Gladstone and Centennial School Districts in July 2017, with a further expansion into David Douglas School District in January 2018. Keep Oregon Well has opened “Wellness Zones” at locations across Portland that serve as program spaces for advocates and volunteers, and opened a retail store to help promote and distribute the work by way of wearable advocacy apparel and cause-branded hard goods. In 2018 Keep Oregon Well launched a volunteer training program that engages interested community members on the topics of trauma and resilience, mental health, health equity and community engagement.
Trillium Family Services
Wendy Ellis, DrPH, MPH
The Center for Community Resilience
George Washington University