Conferences and Events
The Alliance’s 2013 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness is right around the corner, and we at the Alliance couldn’t be more excited about it. We can’t wait to see you in Seattle for what’s sure to be another successful and productive event!
The deadline for early registration is fast approaching. If you haven’t registered yet, you should do so as soon as possible as you don’t want to let this great opportunity for significant savings sneak by you. The deadline is 3 p.m. ET on Monday, December 17. If you’re registering by mail, your form must be postmarked on, or before, Monday, December 17. Visit the conference registration page for more information about deadlines and registration rates.
This year’s two-day conference will take place at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel on February 21 and 22. Those of you who have been following my conference blogs know that we’re still in the midst of planning it, and that we have a lot in store for you. Visit the conference website to learn all about the conference sessions, workshops, and the special reception hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
We expect approximately 800 to 900 attendees to gather in Seattle this February to learn and discuss best practices and effective solutions for ending family and youth homelessness. We hope to see you there!
Recently, I had the privilege of visiting Seattle, the city that will be playing host to the Alliance’s more than 800 attendees during our 2013 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness this February.
As the Alliance’s Director of Meetings and Events, I always visit the host venue for each of our conferences two to three months in advance to get a feel for the space as it relates to our conference schedule, and to choose conference menus and get a general lay of the land.
I hadn’t ever been to Seattle, but I wasn’t shocked to be welcomed by a few rainclouds upon my arrival at Sea-Tac airport. The clouds broke shortly after I made it downtown, however, and I enjoyed sunshine the rest of the day. Here’s hoping we are so lucky in February!
The first thing on my agenda at the hotel was the tasting. I have helped mount a number of the Alliance’s conferences, so I have a pretty good idea what kind of menu items are popular. I always keep our attendees’ preferences in mind (in addition to the Alliance’s budget) when I choose items for the tasting menu.
At the tasting, I was joined by the hotel convention services manager and the hotel chef, who described the menu items – their ingredients, how they’re prepared, etc. – and answered my questions about the food.
I had a chance to sample a bit from each dish on the tasting menu: three first courses, six second courses and three deserts! This is probably the most difficult part of my job here at the Alliance, mostly due to the fact that I need to be rolled out after the meeting.
After the tasting, I chose the conference menus, discussing with the hotel chef various dish modifications to ensure that they’re just right for our attendees. I hope you all like what I chose this year!
Afterwards, the convention services manager and I moved on to the walkthrough, which is a tour of all the spaces in the hotel where our event will be held: the main ballroom, the breakout rooms, our staff office, the meeting foyers, and other spaces.
The walkthrough is extremely important, as it gives me a chance to discuss with the convention services manager how each room should be set, where we want to place certain sessions, information tables, registration, etc. The goal is to ensure it’s as convenient for our group and our schedule as possible.
This may sound simple, but really it is incredible how helpful walking through the space with a firm event schedule in mind is. The process allows you to visualize everything coming together; it’s the last piece of the puzzle.
After the walkthrough, I took a field trip to the campus of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to see where the foundation will be hosting our conference reception.
The trip over to Gates alone was an adventure itself! There is a Seattle Monorail station located just blocks from the conference hotel, and it dropped me only a couple short blocks from the Gates Foundation campus.
The monorail ride took me past the Experience Music Project Museum, which was designed by famous architect Frank O. Gehry. It’s quite the spectacle. Upon exiting the monorail station at my destination I came within steps of the Seattle Space Needle, one of the biggest Seattle tourist attractions. Just peaking at it from afar was pretty neat.
At the Gates Foundation, I was amazed by the cutting-edge, floor-to-ceiling, LEED-certified building, where our reception will take place. Gates is excited to host us and we are grateful to them for inviting all of us to join them in February for what is sure to be a delightful occasion.
That concludes my brief visit to Seattle. It was informative and exciting. I hope that you have a chance to get to Seattle this February for our conference and to see the few sites I was able to take in, as well as the ones I missed (there are quite a few!). If you have not yet registered, make sure to register today!
Today’s guest blog post was contributed by Erin Bock, assistant director of the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless of Omaha, Neb.
At my most recent visit to Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns’ Office on Capitol Hill Day, I was gearing up to make a request. Over the last couple of years, I hadn’t had much luck. So you can imagine my surprise when he said “yes” to my request that he come and see the great work being done at a homeless service provider within the Continuum of Care (CoC) in Omaha, Neb.
From there, it was easy. Senator Johanns had signed into law significant behavioral health reforms while he was governor in 2004. Our CoC, also known as Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless, or MACCH, had many success stories that linked with those reforms, especially our local 100,000 Homes Campaign.
The Senator and his staff arrived at Omaha’s Community Alliance on a Tuesday afternoon in August. We met in roundtable fashion, the discussion being led by the leadership from MACCH’s interagency housing team. Not only did local homeless service providers showcase MACCH’s collective success in serving the community’s most vulnerable, but we were able to show how federal funding streams make this kind of work possible.
We also gained greater insight into the political world that senators inhabit. I can’t imagine being informed about the myriad of constituent groups, legislative priorities, and funding streams that senators have to keep track of. I left our meeting with tremendous appreciation for the work our elected officials undertake every day.
Since that meeting one month ago, Senator Johanns’ office has participated in our local homeless symposium, sought information about acting to further our collective work and acted with us on specific efforts aligned with our mission. We believe this synergy was a direct result of our active engagement of public leadership. It re-enforces the value that can come from both hill and site visits.
My boss and I call our work with the Continuum of Care in Omaha an extreme sport. We’re figuring this out as we go. The lessons learned from Senator Johanns’ visit are thus:
- Even tiny organizations can have an impact. We’re a two-person entity but have the partnership with our CoC providers, funders and advocates aligned toward the goal of preventing and ending homelessness in our community;
- Consistency of effort pays off, even if it’s effort at a modest scale;
- Elected officials need help to stay on top of the federal legislation that is so important to helping us achieve our goal; and
- The National Alliance for Ending Homelessness is a valuable resource in assisting organizations with their local advocacy work.
Photo: Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns and staff from the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless of Omaha, Neb, August 7, 2012.
The conference will take place this February at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel in Seattle, Wash., where 800 to 900 attendees are expected to convene to share and learn about the latest tools and the most effective solutions going in the homeless assistance field today. We are in the midst of the planning process, and working hard to make sure you get the most out of the experience.
Although the conference website is always being updated, you can always find important details about the conference, including the conference agenda, registration rates, hotel information, travel information, as well as important information about scholarship and volunteer opportunities. We will be posting more information as it becomes available.
We encourage you register early to take advantage of the early rate for substantial savings. The deadline for early registration is 3 p.m. ET, Monday, Dec. 17. If you are registering by mail, your form must be postmarked on or before Monday, December 17.
For organizations sending three or more individuals to the conference, the early registration cost for the first two registrants to attend the conference is $425 per person. For each additional individual, the fee is $375.
For more information about deadlines and fees for other registration rates, please see the conference website registration rates page. You can also keep up with Alliance news on our blog, on our Facebook page, on Twitter and in our newsletter, where we will be posting updates and reminders as these dates approach.
We hope to see you in Seattle this February!
As the Alliance’s Director of Meetings and Events I am excited to be in the midst of planning the 2013 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness. I’m thrilled that we are returning to Seattle, WA for this event.
The Alliance’s first Seattle conference took place in 2007, and it had the largest turnout of any of our west coast conferences. We hope to surpass that turnout in 2013, and we look forward to meeting more passionate folks who are working diligently year-round to ensure that there will one day be an end to homelessness in America.
For those of you who attend the conference, it’s a two-day affair (not counting your roundtrip travel). For Alliance staff though, conference planning begins more than a year before the event. Here’s a look at our planning process:
We like to finalize a location more than a year prior to the conference. For example, for our upcoming conference we secured a location in November of 2011. We choose the geographic location based upon what cities are doing to end homelessness in that area.
Choosing the location is just the beginning, though. Once that’s done, we have to research hotels in the area to determine which are large enough and have the proper layout for our conference, then we send requests for proposals to the prospective hotels. Once we receive proposals, we go through the details of each. We also give careful consideration to the kinds of concessions offered by each hotel. The Alliance is very budget-conscious, so we tend to favor the proposals that include concessions that lower the Alliance’s bottom line.
For example, a hotel may offer one complimentary room for a certain number of rooms sold within our sleeping room block. So if one hotel offers one complimentary room per 40 rooms sold, and another offers one per 50, we’ll be more interested in the first hotel, because we would receive more complimentary rooms for 40 rooms purchased, than we would for 50.
The entire hotel contract negotiation process takes about a month to finalize. Our goal is to have the signed, in-hand hotel contract more than a year prior to the February conference.
The reason we plan so far in advance is to ensure that we have as many options to go with as possible. When we have a large number of hotels to choose from, we have plenty of room to negotiate great deals. Once the hotel contract is signed, though, we’re able to put the planning to rest – for a while anyway.
Promotional materials and conference content
The next piece in the planning process comes eight months prior to the event. This is the time when we finalize the event timeline and send requests for proposals to the event graphic designer and audio-visual suppliers, and the Alliance staff begins finalizing workshop content and speakers.
We put together the event timeline by working backwards from the date of the event, flagging important deadlines. This allows us to keep the planning on track and remind the Alliance network when important deadlines like registration cutoff dates and hotel reservation cutoff dates are approaching.
(This timeline is a very important piece of the puzzle. It’s something I refer to every day in the planning process.)
We handle the requests for proposals to the graphic designer and the AV suppliers in much the same way as we do the requests for proposals to hotels. We find a few vendors we’re interested in working with and let them know what we need. Once we receive the proposals from the vendors, we ask for clarification on certain items and negotiate prices. We usually sign a contract with our chosen vendors within a week of receiving the proposals.
A couple weeks later, we begin working with our chosen graphic designer on the promotional materials for our conference. The designer bases the design on the conference themes chosen beforehand by the entire Alliance staff, including our President, Nan Roman, and our Vice President for Programs and Policy, Steve Berg.
Our conference themes typically come from current and future issues in the homeless assistance field, the economy, and the conference’s location – to name just a few sources of inspiration.
While the designer is hard at work pulling together possible conference graphic designs, the Alliance staff engage in hours of brainstorming sessions over the course of several weeks to come up with timely, relevant, and vital content for the conference. These meetings are time-consuming but essential, as we wouldn’t have quality conference content without them.
Where we are today
This is where we currently are in our planning for the upcoming National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness, in the midst of putting together the content for our conference. Planning our conferences is a long, involved, arduous process, but we at the Alliance feel fortunate to be able to host such important annual events. Our conferences reach 2,000 people nationwide (with a few who travel internationally to join us) – and that number is in attendance alone. Thousands more follow the conferences on social media and our blog, and many follow up with us afterwards to obtain conference materials.
We have also seen attendees come to our conferences year after year to learn more, and to report back about what amazing work they were able to implement in their communities from the information they gathered at the previous conferences. I hope to see you all in Seattle this February!
It’s that time of year again, the Combined Federal Campaign starts soon and we just wanted to remind you that The National Alliance to End Homelessness will be participating again this year! All federal employees have the opportunity to participate in the world’s largest giving program.
Last year federal workers pledged $69,314.52 toward our goal of ending homelessness. To those of you who helped us reach this incredible number, thank you! This year we need your help again. Remember to look for us under “Homelessness, National Alliance to End,” #10022 in your CFC pledge book and on your local campaign website. You may also see some of us at your upcoming CFC Fair.
If you’re not a federal employee you can still give! Many companies have their own matching campaigns that allow you to double your own person contribution. You can also remind friends and family who are federal employees to remember us when filling out their card.
Last month, nearly 1,500 people traveled from all over the country to Washington, D.C. for the Alliance’s National Conference on Ending Homelessness. Almost a quarter of those people participated in Capitol Hill Day, and visited their Members of Congress on Capitol Hill to update them on local progress in ending homelessness and to urge them to make ending homelessness a federal priority.
Based on our State Captains’ “report backs” from more than 289 meetings, we’ve compiled a 2012 Capitol Hill Day Report and Summary. The report highlights the major successes of this year’s Capitol Hill Day. For starters, more than 360 participants went on more than 289 meetings. Five states, including Arkansas, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Dakota, had a 100 percent participation rate, meaning that every person from the state who registered for our conference participated in Capitol Hill Day.
In the 289 congressional meetings, more than 75 of which involved a member of Congress (another record broken over last year), advocates made the case for the following Hill Day Policy Priorities:
- Provide $2.23 billion in FY 2013 for HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants Program;
- Provide $127 million in FY 2013 for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) Programs;
- Provide $1.35 billion for VA’s targeted homeless veteran programs, including $300 million for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program;
- Provide $100 million for SAMHSA Homeless Services Programs in FY 2013;
- Renew all existing Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers in FY 2013, and provide $75 million for about 10,000 new HUD – VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program vouchers; and
- Prevent further cuts in non-defense, discretionary spending for affordable housing and targeted homeless assistance programs.
It is worth noting that funding for the McKinney-Vento program was the subject of discussion in more than 233 meetings – that’s approximately 81 percent of all the meetings!
This year, the appropriations process has been on a “hurry up and wait” timeline. Both the House and Senate made great strides in producing and passing the fiscal year 2013 appropriations bills. But they stalled toward the end of June before the process was completed, promising to take the measures back up following the election. This put Capitol Hill Day in a slightly different context than previous years. There were no “Dear Colleague” congressional sign-on letters circulating in either the House or Senate, and unfortunately, Hill Day advocates had few concrete, immediate actions they could ask their Members to take.
Instead, advocates focused on inviting their Members on tours of local programs during the upcoming congressional recesses. In fact, they invited nearly 75 Members of Congress on a site visit – that’s more than twice as many invitations as were extended last year! This certainly helped lay the groundwork for the McKinney-Vento Site Visit Campaign, launched in early August, close on the heels of Capitol Hill Day.
As always, the best part of Capitol Hill Day is that the full impact of these 289 meetings could extend beyond the immediate successes outlined in this report. Capitol Hill Day participants realized valuable opportunities to create and strengthen relationships with members of Congress and their staff members. These bonds will prove to have an incalculable impact in the coming weeks, months, and years, particularly as Congress works to finalize the FY 2013 funding bills and tackles some of the bigger budget issues.
The success of this year’s Capitol Hill Day wouldn’t have been possible without people from around the country coming together. The effort of each person, and particularly the 73 volunteer State Captains, who spent countless hours organizing each state’s efforts, allowed this year’s Capitol Hill Day to be one of the most successful yet.
Thanks again to all our wonderful advocates and for yet another fantastic Capitol Hill Day!
Today’s guest blog is by Daniel Kelly, an MSW student at the University of Michigan and Intern for the Corporation for Supportive Housing Michigan Program.
2012 was my first year at the National Alliance Conference on Ending Homelessness. I’ve been involved in homeless services since after my undergraduate in 2006, but I hadn’t been able to make the trip until this year when I interned with the Corporation for Supportive Housing.
Unfortunately, I had a full class load the first two days of the conference. In fact, Tuesday was the final exam for one of my classes! My plan was to leave straight from class in Ann Arbor, Mich., and make the drive out to Washington D.C. for the conference. In preparation, my excited Mother took my car into the shop to ensure it was ready for the road. Everything checked out, so after I turned in my exam at about noon, I got in my already packed car and began the nine-hour journey to the Capitol.
The experience was inspiring. At the conference, being surrounded by so many people committed to ending homelessness got me fired up. This feeling of inspiration continued during our Michigan Capitol Hill Day visits. I was fortunate to meet with Congresspersons Gary Peters and Hansen Clarke, who were both very receptive to the messages we brought to them about the negative effects of sequestration efforts. After the conference, this inspiration lasted through my next two days in D.C. as I toured the museums and memorials while staying with my Uncle who lives in the area.
After a few days of sightseeing, I left for home early Friday evening. It was raining heavily during the first few hours of the trip. As I drove through the windy mountains of Pennsylvania, the worst thing happened – my car began to sputter, eventually stalling out on the side of the road. Luckily, in some strange coincidence (or was it irony?), right before the trip, my Grandma had added me to her AAA emergency auto coverage. At the time, I didn’t see the need and told her I was “OK,” but she insisted. Boy was I was happy she signed me up!
With the newly added coverage, I called AAA and was picked up and towed to the local shop in Johnstown, PA. I waited there until Saturday morning when the owner was able to look at my car. The diagnosis: a blown fuel pump. The shop had to order the part so they wouldn’t be able to finish the repair until at least Monday. Because I had to be back in Michigan by that Monday for work, I called my brother who drove more than five hours to pick me up.
The experience was extremely frustrating, and at the time it deflated the inspiration and passion I took from my time in D.C. Looking back, though, the supports of my family along the way helped to blunt the frustration of this experience and maintain my passionate spirit. It could have been way worse without their support!
The people we serve, the individuals and families experiencing homelessness throughout the nation, may not have the same support I did during their own difficult situations. They may not be able to lean on their family or friends when their car breaks down, or even worse, they may have been laid off from their job, or fleeing domestic violence, or dealing with a mental health issue.
This is why we do the work we do – to support people through their difficult times. This way they can, like me, continue to maintain passion and inspiration in their lives.
The Alliance is proud to be a partner in From Housing to Recovery, a conference running from Sept. 19 through 21 in Tulsa, Okla.
In many ways, this three-day event exemplifies the kind of collaboration and focus we need if we are to address the problem of chronic homelessness and meet the goal of ending it by 2015, as set in the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
From Housing to Recovery, though initiated by private and non-profit champions in the Tulsa mental health community, is more than a local affair. It’s a national meeting as well, co-sponsored by Mental Health America. The event is about recovery, and it’s about housing, featuring policy, practice and partnership in equal measure. It’s about solutions that work for people and for communities.
Tulsa is an apt setting for a conference of this scope and vision. The 100,000 Homes campaign has recognized the city as a leader among communities making progress in ending chronic homelessness.
At the Alliance’s 2012 National Conference on Ending Homelessness, Greg Shinn from the Mental Health Association in Tulsa presented on the ingredients of Tulsa’s success in the workshop, Chronic Homelessness: Getting to Zero by 2015. According to Shinn, they include:
- Community planning and housing investment
- Integrated recovery for people experiencing mental health and housing crises
- Housing First approaches with person-centered services and coordinated care
- A focus on economic impact and sustainability
- An outcome-oriented, data-driven system redesign
The Alliance agrees with Tulsa that communities dedicated to ending chronic homelessness need to incorporate these vital steps in their plans. We look forward to participating as a partner in the conference next month, and getting better acquainted with the great work going on in Tulsa. It’s not too late to join us!
Photo by Justin Cozart.
During our 2012 conference, many of you shared with us that you proudly wear your Alliance ‘End Homelessness’ t-shirts on the job, while you volunteer, and have even given them as gifts and prizes to colleagues and family. We’ve sold over 700 shirts over the last year, and we’re proud that so many of you are spreading the message that we can and must end homelessness. Now we want to see where you are wearing your shirt. So send us a picture!
How does it work?
All you have to do is grab your phone or camera and take a photo of yourself in your shirt wherever you are working to end homelessness (workplace, state capitol, new housing location, etc.) and then share it with us directly via social media or email.
Sharing your photos is easy!
Facebook: Search “National Alliance to End Homelessness” into Facebook’s search-bar, and simply post it to our Wall. Don’t forget to tag yourself and ‘Like’ our page too.
Don’t forget to tell us how YOU are helping to end homelessness in the post! Maybe you are helping re-house a Veteran or family, meeting with your Continuum of Care, or educating you elected officials. Maybe you just have an awesome advocacy team and want to tell us how passionate you all are. Tell us and let us share your efforts! We will re-tweet, repost and may feature the photos on the Alliance blog as well as a Facebook gallery.
Need another End Homelessness T-shirt?
If you don’t have an End Homelessness T-shirt, or just want a new one to share, you can order them through our website. A t-shirt costs $20 plus shipping and you have two alluring colors to choose from: Navy blue and Maroon.
In the future, we may use photos and responses in media and messaging, so sharing your photo with us will help us spread our message that ending homelessness is possible!
Disclaimer: By submitting a photo, submitter grants an irrevocable, non-exclusive worldwide royalty-free license to the National Alliance to End Homelessness to use the photograph for any purposes. This license grant includes permission for the National Alliance to End Homelessness to grant third parties the right to use the photograph.