March 6, 2009

A message from Bread for the City

We are in the midst of what some are calling the most severe economic crisis in several generations. Throughout the District of Columbia, residents face rising unemployment, insecure housing, and inadequate health care. Yet even as the need for assistance escalates, service agencies that help the most vulnerable are facing financial difficulties of their own.

Bread for the City has entered this recession in a position of relative strength: our sources of funding are as diversified as possible, thus affording critical insulation from economic turbulence. But we are not immune to the downturn. In particular, we struggle with the rising costs of operation: essentials like health care and food prices are placing great strains on our budget.

With great deliberation, our board and staff have chosen a course of action that will minimize the short-term impact of this crisis, while positioning ourselves for long-term growth. To sustain our high levels of service, our staff and management will make sacrifices.

  • Starting on April 1, 2009, staff salaries will be reduced by 10% and management salaries by 12%.
  • To allow our staff some flexibility to adapt to these changes, Bread for the City will be closed for client services on Fridays. Our new operational schedule for both Centers will be Monday through Thursday, from 9am to 5pm.
  • In September, some staff positions will revert to a stipend volunteer capacity.
Taken together, this set of changes will allow us to avoid substantial cuts to client services and staff. At the same time, Bread for the City is moving forward with a number of initiatives that will pave the way for long-term growth.
  • Our plans for a major expansion of our Northwest Center continue apace. The groundbreaking for construction will take place on March 25th, and the expansion is targeted for completion in one year. The size of our facility will more than double, and our new medical clinic will nearly triple our capacity to provide primary health care to the poor. This expansion has been primarily funded by a generous grant from the DC Primary Care Association through its Medical Homes DC Capital Projects initiative, which is funded by the DC government.
  • We've recently completed a transition to an electronic health records system that will allow us to increase the efficiency and coordination of our services. This platform-which was funded by a grant from the DC Primary Care Association-has greatly increased our operational efficiency. As our medical clinic prepares to expand its client base to more than double its current size, this technology will allow us to grow smoothly and at low cost.
  • This year, our food program is launching a new project: gleaning tons of fresh surplus produce from regional farms. This food - which would otherwise go to waste as a result of market inefficiencies - is there for the taking by a coordinated volunteer force, and will help us improve our client's diet while greatly reducing our expenditures on canned goods.
  • We are also strengthening our relationships with supporters and likeminded organizations. This crisis underscores how interconnected we all are in today's world - and Bread for the City is working to draw our community closer together, so that together we may summon the strength that the circumstances require. Through email newsletters, this here very blog, and innovative social media, we are channeling information about the state of vulnerable communities in DC to a wider and more engaged audience, and generating the social capital that will enable us to withstand financial scarcity.
The upcoming changes will be difficult, but we believe that this course of action will best prepare us for a rapidly changing environment, leaving us poised to endure continued economic stress and quickly rebound in the course of recovery.

We are proud of our staff and board's continued commitment, responsiveness, creativity and flexibility in the face of hardship. We thank the broad and generous community of supporters who make our work possible. Working together, we will emerge from this difficult period even stronger than before.

As we continue to evaluate our progress, we promise to remain open and communicative about the decision-making process. Please contact me at (202.386.7006 or gjones{AT}breadforthecity{DOT}org) if you have any questions or feedback.

Thank you for standing with us.


joe a bo said...

Well done there guys, visited you from the UK in November and was really impressed, we can learn a lot from you here.

All the best for 2009,
Joe Parker

Matt Siemer said...

Hi Joe,

Thank you for the kind words, and for coming to visit! It's very much appreciated.