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I’m pleased to share that the winner of this year’s Community Impact Award is Warren Village in Denver.
The organization helps low-income, single-parent families achieve economic self-sufficiency through a “two-generation” service model for both parents and children that includes affordable housing, early care and education, and family services.
In this Q&A, Ethan Hemming, president & CEO of Warren Village, shared more about the organization’s inspiring work and its mission for the future.Q: Warren Village has a unique history going back to 1974. What about it appeals to you, and what do you think is the key to its longevity? A: Warren Village was founded in the concept of creating opportunity. The philosophical underpinning of our holistic and comprehensive two-generation model is the strength and dignity of the individual, and what they can achieve if given access to opportunity.
One of the basic reasons for Warren Village’s longevity is simply that the model works. Our two-generation program has a strong reputation with demonstrated successful outcomes. We have maintained our mission over the years while allowing for programmatic adaptations to rise to the changing issues in Denver. We also have a strong basis in the community, with deep partnerships, enduring commitment of the founding families and other supporters, and a highly diversified revenue model.With the many challenges that face a single-parent family in achieving economic self-sufficiency, what steps toward success have you seen that surprised you the most?
I am always surprised by the amazing capacity of people who have suffered and endured so much with little support early on to make significant changes. Most of the single parents who come to us have experienced generational poverty, trauma, violence, homelessness, and much more.
The complexity of taking on every single part of your life while dealing with these serious obstacles and barriers can be overwhelming. Yet our resident single parents put in the work every day to improve their situations, often juggling parenting, school, jobs, getting their finances on track, and working on the physical and mental well-being of their families. Stable housing plays an incredibly important role in this process by providing a foundation on which to make comprehensive change.What motivates you to continue in this important work?
I am inspired on a daily basis by those we serve who demonstrate extraordinary tenacity, drive, and commitment. They are my role models, actually. They are committing to a path of change, at a rate that exceeds what was expected of so many of us. I get up each day excited to lead an organization that serves such people and has demonstrated real community impact.What’s your hope for Warren Village in the next 10 years?
We believe so much in the efficacy of the two-generation model and we hope that our work can inspire greater application of the model across our country for other anti-poverty programs. Here in our community, we want to play a greater and greater role in addressing systemic poverty. Our goal is to expand our model here in Denver and play a leadership role in promoting policy solutions that have an impact on the constellation of supports our residents need on their journeys to self-sufficiency.
Learn more in this video:
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Read our interview with the other recipient in our 2017 Philanthropy Awards: Ecotrust.