By: Caterina Bummara, MPP, Senior Manager, Project Management

Caterina Bummara is a Senior Manager, Project Management at ICF, where she directs projects and provides training and technical assistance related to self-sufficiency and vulnerable populations.


The views expressed In Focus are exclusively those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect official positions of their employers or clients. References to materials or services in the public domain do not imply endorsement from those entities.



Connecting job seekers with multiple barriers to long-term employment can prove challenging. From an organization’s perspective, services and supports between local providers may overlap or appear duplicative. From an individual’s perspective, seeking out the supports one needs and navigating service offerings from these multiple organizations can be daunting. Forming strategic partnerships between organizations which serve the same target population can help streamline services, leverage multiple funding streams, and integrate non-employment supports to both individuals and their families.

Streamlining Service Delivery: In partnerships with “No Wrong Door” policies, organizations coordinate to ensure that regardless of which organization an individual interacts with, he or she can access information, resources, and referrals from all agencies and organizations in the partnership. The goal is to provide individuals with the full range of service offerings available, while at the same time providing assistance in accessing services, and reducing service duplication. This ensures that individuals—and their family members—have access to all support offerings while minimizing time needed to navigate different service systems. Partnerships also benefit by streamlined training and employment referrals by ensuring that individuals have the access to the programs and services most suited for their skillsets.  How can your organization and its partners streamline service delivery for individuals and families on their paths towards self-sufficiency?

Leveraging Multiple Funding Streams: Strategic partnerships offer the unique opportunity to maximize the impact of multiple funding streams though either blended or braiding funding. Blending funding streams combines funds from multiple funding sources together, with costs not necessarily allocated and tracked by an individual funding sources. More common are braided funding streams, where separate funding streams are brought together to pay for more services than what any one funding stream would be able support. With braiding funding, the funding streams are kept separate and can be tracked to ensure that spending is in line with funder objectives and requirements. What are the advantages and limitations of your organizations funding requirements? How can your funding be blended or braided with other partner funding streams?

Non-Employment Supports: To maximize their success, individuals with multiple barriers to employment need supports beyond career pathways and skills training. The non-employment supports needed are different for each family. Non-employment supports such as child care, soft skills trainings, transportation, housing assistance, and healthy relationship education are tied to increased employment outcomes. What common barriers do individuals in your community face on their paths towards long-term employment, and how can developing strong organizational partnerships support these families?

There are many models of successful strategic partnerships and their impact on long-term employment. Agencies and organizations interested in forming their own partnerships have a wealth of research and successful program examples to base their own models. Research on successful partnerships and their impacts within the self-sufficiency realm can be found in the Self Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse and innovative partnership strategies to move individuals to long-term employment can be found on the Office of Family Assistance PeerTA website.