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Strengthening Human Services through Social Capital

HHSThe U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation has contracted with the Research Triangle Institute and the University of North Carolina School of Government for the Strengthening Human Services through Social Capital project, which seeks to understand how local, state, faith-based, and nonprofit human services programs and organizations can create and use social capital to increase employment, reduce poverty, and improve child and family well-being. The project uses expert consultations, a program scan, and case studies to better understand how human services organizations help participants build and leverage social capital to improve economic opportunity.

Case Studies: The programs below are helping participants build and use social capital in diverse ways and cover a range of human services domains. These case studies were selected for their focus on incorporating strategies to help participants build and use social capital, and not for other aspects of their programming:

  • Family Independence Initiative – Detroit: Partners with families to form small cohorts that meet regularly to hold each other accountable toward achieving their goals by leveraging their existing social capital, tracking progress through technology, and using small grants from the program;
  • Community Action Project of Tulsa County: Uses a two-generation approach that intentionally creates opportunities for families to build and use social capital by using a peer-to-peer cohort model that encourages families to connect with each other and develop a peer support network;
  • Roca, Inc.: Engages youth in Maryland and Massachusetts with the mission of disrupting the cycle of incarceration and poverty by helping young people transform their lives. Roca’s programming includes alternative education, pre-vocational training, life-skills training, and transitional employment to help youth tap into new, positive social networks;
  • Teen Challenge Arizona: Offers faith-based residential drug and alcohol recovery centers that foster relationships with others going through similar experiences to build and leverage participants’ social capital; and
  • Connections to Success: Helps individuals, including those who are incarcerated or reentering the community, in the St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri regions build lasting social capital ties with their peers and others in the community through the use of one-on-one mentoring and professional development classes to support employment and other goals.