Learn. Grow. Implement.

Theory. Practice. Implementation.

These are the three key ingredients to knowing how to make change in operations in your approach to ending homelessness. Very recently, we announced the Learning Clinics in 2017. These are the next big step (risk?) we are taking at OrgCode to enhance the knowledge-base in ending homelessness, and help communities achieve sustained reductions in homelessness.

There are a number of different learning clinics throughout the first half of 2017. I want to take a few minutes to tell you why we are doing them, and to tell you about them, as well as how they are different from a typical conference or workshop.


We believe that our job is to be catalysts for better outcomes. We feel that many communities focus on the wrong things in ending homelessness either because of lack of knowledge or lack of leadership. We tackle leadership development in the Leadership Academy. We are now tackling knowledge acquisition. But not just any ol’ approach to knowledge. We are marrying theory to individual practice and organization or community wide implementation.

We believe that every community should invest in professional development of staff every year. We feel this way because it is our contention that we need to see this work as a professional service rather than a charitable approach to addressing homelessness.

We believe that people that are homeless in every community are best served by the best trained staff and organization. We feel that an organization/community owes it to the people they serve to ensure they are on top of the main currents of thought and practice, know how to make those practices happen, and are committed to making it work to improve homelessness.

We know that change sucks, and that while a person or organization may like the idea of changing, they rarely take the time to discern what they do not know, invest in getting the knowledge they need, and struggle to keep change happening when faced with challenges. We feel that if we help people group their approach in broader theory that change is more likely to be realized in practice and wide-scale implementation.

We believe in communities of practice. We feel that if we can bring people together from different communities and even different countries we can increase the size of your sounding board, give you more people to reach out to for help when you are implementing change, and enhance your network of like-minded professionals.

We know that conferences can do a great job of introducing you to a topic – usually over 90 minutes or so – but that it is impossible for a panel presentation or even one presenter in that time to give you all you need to know in order to practice what you have learned. We also know that webinars are great at getting information out, but are not intimate enough to allow for connection and ongoing change practice. We accept we can do better in providing information and improving practice.


The Clinic Topics

You can read a more fulsome description of the topics here and the first ones are open for registration  hereherehere and here. Below is a quick synopsis of all of them:

Housing Stabilization (Ottawa Jan 9 & 10; Las Vegas Jan 26 & 27) – how to keep at least four out of five of your most acute households housed so that they do not come back into homelessness.

Coordinated Entry (San Diego Mar 2 & 3; Burlington, Ontario Mar 6 & 7) – even communities that have been trying to implement or have implemented within the last two years will likely find the refinements of practice outlined in this learning clinic to be exceptionally important.

How to be an Awesome Shelter (Edmonton Mar 20 & 21; Dallas Mar 23 & 24) – what it takes to make your shelter completely housing focused and change all practices to be trauma-informed

Being a Kick Butt Community Entity (Continuum of Care, Community Based Organization or Service Provider) (Providence Apr 10 & 11) – the best approaches to guide, lead and manage the body that influences how your community invests in and responds to homelessness

Rural Homelessness Solutions (Minneapolis May 8 & 9) – everything you needed to know to focus on amazing service delivery when engaging with people in rural and even remote geographic areas

Street Outreach to Housing (Nashville May 11 & 12; Saskatoon May 15 & 16) – how to make sure all engagement is focused on housing, and the connection to coordinated entry and housing stability when people are street involved

Making Your HMIS Super Awesome & Using Your Performance Data (Pittsburgh June 5 & 6; Denver June 8 & 9) – the alternate title for this session is “Un-f*cking Your HMIS” if that helps you figure out what this session will focus on.

For many of the sessions (Housing Stabilization, Coordinated Entry, and How to Be an Awesome Shelter) we are offering three separate tracks: one for families, one for unaccompanied youth, and one for single adults. These will occur at the same venue. Plenary will be shared and instruction will be with like-service organizations/staff.


How These Differ From Other Conferences or Workshops

We, as you may know, are HUGE fans of conferences. We attend a lot of them. We are honoured when given the chance to keynote or do session presentations. We find them to be highly effective at communicating key messaging and helping to outline the key aspects of some important aspects of homeless service delivery.

What conferences are not awesome at (nor are they designed to do) is to give very detailed instruction on any particular topic of interest in ending homelessness. Each of the Learning Clinics we are delivering are either 1.5 or 2 full day sessions (depends on the subject). These are a much deeper dive into the subjects.

We are also working to own the things we (OrgCode) does well and focus on those things. We happen to think there are other organizations that are remarkably stellar at training on some other stuff (like the National Alliance to End Homelessness work on Rapid ReHousing, T3’s work on Motivational Interviewing, and Focus Strategies work on data analysis – to name a few). We are not out to compete with any of these organizations or their strengths. We are here to bring our expertise to a different audience in a different manner.

In addition, we are working and communicating with a range of colleagues in different organizations and government to ensure our content is aligned to policy, other initiatives afoot, and changes in the pipeline. You already know we are decently connected to what is happening in the bigger picture. You can expect that to be anchored into our material delivery.

We would be honoured if you would make the investment to join your colleagues in improving service, learn all you need to take the information back to your community and put it into practice, and help improve your efforts to end homelessness.



About Iain De Jong

Leader. Edutainer. Coach. Consultant. Professor. Researcher. Blogger. Do-gooder. Potty mouth. Positive disruptor. Relentless advocate for social justice. Comedian. Dad. Minimalist. Recovering musician. Canadian citizen. International jetsetter. Living life in jeans and a t-shirt. Trying really hard to end homelessness in developed countries around the world, expand harm reduction practices, make housing happen, and reform the justice system. Driven by change, fuelled by passion. Winner of a shit ton of prestigious awards, none of which matter unless change happens in how we think about vulnerability, marginality, and inclusion.

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