Ten years ago, FFI was a small but mighty group of allies working on a research-informed hunch that if we orient systems and services around what makes people more alike than different, rather than designing around what makes people different, outcomes improve.
Pretty early on, we realized this is bigger than systems and services. This is about all of us because what connects us all is our universal drive for wellbeing—the set of needs and experiences universally required in combination and balance to weather challenges and have health and hope.
In the decade since, a growing staff and board, with partners and allies, have been guided by a North Star that we know guides many of you, too: a country where everyone has a fair shot at wellbeing. We’ve been joined by systems and communities in Missouri, Massachusetts and California, and nonprofits in more than a dozen other states. Funders and board members from around the country have supported the testing of our hunch, the building of knowledge, the deep-dive work with partners, all of which is demonstrating how shifting from short-term fixes to fostering wellbeing supports durable change in people’s lives and greater equity in society. Our toolkits and resources are used around the country by philanthropy, nonprofits and government to shift from focusing just on what’s wrong, to focusing on what matters: wellbeing.
It’s been a tremendous, successful journey, as we’ll spell out more in newsletters to come. For now, in keeping with the theme of this newsletter, it’s vital to understand the role of context in FFI’s work and our trajectory.
The context of social change work has changed in the last decade. For example, ten years ago, the systemic racism baked into our criminal justice system was all-too-well understood by communities of color, but not seen by systems nor part of the generalized (white) national narrative. That’s shifted. Ten years ago, hate and division weren’t both normalized and sensationalized as they are now. That’s shifted, too. These and many other shifts take us all toward or away from everyone having a fair shot at wellbeing. These contextual shifts have also unleashed demand for FFI’s work that is greater and deeper than we had imagined.
So in this context, we’re seizing opportunities and meeting demand. We’re moving into healthcare and exploring invitations to expand geographically. We’ve got plans to increase our “entry points” for individuals who want to be part of increasing access to wellbeing in their community and workspaces and homes. We’re doubling down on data and evaluation and ramping up communications and amplification of our partners’ impact in increasing access to wellbeing.
How FFI helps shape the context of our country for the next decade depends on strong partnerships with other social change organizations, neighborhoods, government agencies, nonprofits, and funders. Gordon and Lulie Gund and their family have challenged us to fuel up for this journey, with an extraordinary challenge: they will provide $2 million for our growth if others provide an additional $2 million by December 1st. Read more here, and join us in seizing this opportunity for change.
Whether you’ve been on this journey with us for ten years or ten days, thank you for being an FFI ally, and for believing that everyone deserves a fair shot at wellbeing.