This toolkit is the culmination of STOP Administrator data collection, Action Meetings, and Site Visits led by Senior WOCN Consultants.
The WOCN 3-Tier System Toolkit has 3 Sections listed below. We recommend for your first visit that you start with Section I and continue in number order. The first two sections provide the needed context for the toolkit, and provide crucial guidance in reflection, self-examination, and planning before implementation.
We developed this toolkit to codify learnings and to support further STOP Administrator engagement with marginalized or “3-Tier populations”. We are happy to offer this online toolkit featuring the 3-Tier System with hopes that it will be a helpful vehicle to STOP Administrators and their local programs and grantees!
Aleese Moore-Orbih, Purvi Shah, and WOCN STOP TA Consultants Zoe Flowers and Smita Satiani, and WOCN staff Interim Executive Director Anzala Alozie.
Section I: Introducing WOCN’s 3-Tier System & Toolkit
WOCN, Inc. has worked in partnership with the Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO) and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) over the past several years to assist STOP Administrators in better identifying and reaching underserved populations.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has mandated since 2005 that STOP Administrators include members of underserved populations in your state planning process, and that funding for organizations whose mission and purpose is to reach these communities is prioritized. WOCN was asked in 2009 to write an article for the STOP Administrators Corner periodical to provide clarity about including underserved populations in STOP planning.
In the article “Including Underserved, Un-Served and Inadequately Served Populations in the STOP Planning Process,” WOCN took the general term “underserved populations” and expanded it to three categories:
- Un-Served Populations: This category is designated for those populations who are so marginalized that they are not reached at all. This is also indicative of those populations who are emerging and who are not yet visible in our services or who are there in very small numbers.
- Underserved Populations: Populations in this category are those who are growing in number in our services and have minimal access but who need more services and approaches that meet their specific needs: therefore they remain ‘under’-served.
- Inadequately Served Populations: This category speaks to those historically marginalized communities who may be highly visible or even overrepresented in number, but who are still in need of improved quality of services that will help address cyclical challenges their populations face such as “one-size fits all” strategies that disregard historical barriers and culturally-specific experiences. Also, the fact that specific populations are “overrepresented” in services demonstrates a need for enhanced support to these communities.
WOCN was given the opportunity to then speak to STOP Administrators at a 2010 STOP Administrators Annual Meeting to further discuss and share this expanded approach to underserved populations initially explored in the 2009 article. Later that year, OVW funded WOCN to develop specialized programming and tools for STOP Administrators to assist in improving and enhancing your outreach to underserved populations. WOCN took the expanded approach shared in the 2009 article and coined it “The 3-Tier System” which has become the driving force behind WOCN’s TA to STOP Administrators. It has been lauded by the majority of STOP Administrators who have attended WOCN Action Meetings or who have invited WOCN to conduct onsite trainings within states and territories as an extremely useful system that has honed and enhanced the ongoing quest to better reach marginalized communities.
Section II: Essential Tools 1 & 2 For Preparation
Section II addresses the importance of considering how you approach or come to the work of reaching 3-Tier populations, and identifies how mainstream philosophies, programming and strategies alone cannot effectively reach and resource underserved populations. This section challenges you to examine your perceptions about identity and pushes you to further understand yourself, the purpose of your work, how you define success in reaching 3-Tier populations.
Essential Tool #1
How Do I Utilize a Social Justice Framework (Methodology/Core Values) in Working with 3-Tier System Populations?
Since violence does not occur in isolation, we must respond with services and advocacy that reflect integrated and intersectional approaches in order to address diverse, complex circumstances. Too often, those in organizations work in silos and miss opportunities for connecting issues, resources, and best practices for supporting survivors and mobilizing responses in a holistic fashion. Survivors’ experiences are textured by intersections or overlapping identities – whether it is immigration status or economic need or limited English proficiency or racism. As a result, services responses that utilize a broad social justice framework can more effectively grasp and address the complex challenges facing survivors from 3-Tier populations.
As Marilyn Cochran-Smith, a leading scholar in education, notes, a social justice framework is one that “actively address[es] the dynamics of oppression, privilege, and isms, [and recognizes] that society is the product of historically rooted, institutionally sanctioned stratification along socially constructed group lines that include race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ability among others.” Social justice in violence prevention and response involves utilizing self-reflection, understanding the dynamics of power and oppression, and working to respond to and challenge inequities faced by marginalized communities and identities. Utilizing a social justice lens means that we reflect on how people, policies, practices, and institutions may be used to empower rather than re-victimize those impacted by those in decision-making roles. Through a social justice framework, we act to resist unfairness and injustice while enhancing self-determination and possibility for survivors.
Those working with 3-Tier populations can continually seek to counter oppressive, systemic patterns through self-reflection and Empowerment-Based Advocacy (EBA) rooted in a social justice framework. EBA is based on the belief that people are already empowered and are the experts in their own lives. It works to return control to communities by inviting them to gather, organize, and build their collective strength. Through EBA, we can work to ensure that the power of survivors is embraced and acknowledged, and that those within systems do not presume to know what is best for survivors and communities. EBA also helps us not act from the assumption that survivors are incapable of making decisions but instead, focus on the resilience and the strengths of survivors and communities.
Essential Tool #2
How Does an Ongoing Practice of Reflection Help Effectively Reach & Provide Resources to 3-Tier Populations?
Introduction: What is Reflection and Why Do It?
Self-reflection, an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings, requires maturity and a desire to know who you are and why you do what you do. It can reveal new self-knowledge that can have a positive impact on your decision-making process and outcomes. For our purposes, reflection on one’s thoughts, feelings, and choices can lead to stronger and more innovative decision-making.
Reflection is Step One in the innovative work of effectively reaching and resourcing 3-Tier Populations.
When making decisions from a place of power, relative to those impacted by such decisions, you must first pause for self-reflection. When working alone, the issue at-hand will most often become blurred and/or unfocused and will result in a diminished capacity to make the most effective decision.
Therefore, decision-makers must always recognize that scanning the environment for knowledge of history, data, and voices of survivors – coupled with the voice and work of on-the ground advocates – will bring the issue back into focus.
Inward and Outward Reflection in Decision-Making
Inward and Outward Reflection is a process utilizing self-reflection to first listen and learn the outward context/environment you are collaborating with and/or serving, and then, second, a return to new self-reflection using the newly-acquired knowledge. Decision-making that mainly relies on a single individual’s experience is an insufficient method for reaching and resourcing 3-Tier populations. Effective reflection of the environment/context requires having strong relationships with representatives of the 3-Tier populations to hear and understand their specific and unique knowledge and experiences. Please see the WOCN Reflection powerpoint to learn this process of reflection.
Who We Are Impacts Our Decisions
Individual context, experience, knowledge and beliefs influence:
- The approach to State Administrator work
- The framework for State Administrator work
- The methodology of State Administrator work
- The commitment to State Administrator work
- The risks taken in State Administrator work;
- The desired outcomes of State Administrator work.
To examine one’s own beliefs, ask:
- Where do they come from?
- What do they mean?
- What are they?; and,
- How could my beliefs be a resource or a roadblock to the mission?
Bracket or pin this knowledge for later as a part of the information to use in your decision-making process. Then gather information from 3-Tier populations and work to build effective aspiring allyships. You can also utilize the WOCN Reflection Tool with your Team and/or Staff. Finally, consider Risk, Responsibility & Impact in Decision-Making. Remember you are not alone.
The Outward Reflection process of listening to and learning with others can develop a cohort of co-workers who together will:
- Make the Co-Commitments needed to support the choices/decisions
- Take on Co-Risks that accompany the choices/decisions; and
- Bring clarity to the desired outcomes.
Before making major decisions, ask yourself:
- How do I know what I think I know about the 3-Tier populations?
- How do I assess the internal and external resources, strengths, needs and gaps of 3-Tier populations?; and,
- How does the above assessment process influence, or not, my decision-making process and outcomes in strategic planning for effectively reaching and resourcing 3-Tier populations?
Essential Tools 3-7 Offering "Promising Practices"
Section III contains promising practices that will assist in improving reach to 3-Tier populations. Essential Tool #3 provides instruction on identifying 3-Tier populations in your states and territories, and may help to generate new knowledge, trigger new questions, and unearth incredible potential for new and innovative strategies to effectively reaching and resourcing underserved populations. Section III will guide and help you develop the relationships that can produce access and resource sharing.
Essential Tool #3
Promising Practices for Identifying 3-Tier System Populations
WOCN has developed a more expansive and enhanced terminology beyond the term “underserved” to reflect the changing demographics and needs of shifting populations within the U.S. Using this 3-Tier terminology system (“un-served,” “underserved,” and “inadequately served”) will help better identify a spectrum of needs within populations, taking into account geographic location, racial and ethnic populations, faith and religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, language barriers, disabilities, immigration status, age, and other contexts.
Definitions of the 3-Tier System terms
- Un-served: Populations that truly have no services available to them and face severe isolation;
- Underserved: Populations that have minimal access and are in need of more outreach and support, and are, thus, “under”-served; and,
- Inadequately Served: Historically marginalized populations that may be overrepresented as they are visible in large numbers in a state or territory, but remain inadequately served with specific reference to the quality of services and a “one-size-fits-all” approach that disregards the historical and systemic disenfranchisement embedded in each system because survivors’ experiences and contexts are perceived as barriers. It is common for these larger populations to be perceived as adequately served due to their visibility and sheer numbers within their States or Territories, but this overlooks the history of marginalization and the need to acknowledge it. Also, the fact that specific populations are “overrepresented” in services demonstrates a need for specific and enhanced support to these communities. The intersecting and specific needs of 3-Tier populations may be more effectively served through culturally- and linguistically-relevant service provision that includes or is exclusive to providers that are representative of those populations. Thus, it is important that community-based programs that are responsive to the histories of these populations receive funds to enhance their services.
Applying the 3-Tier System will help improve the identification of marginalized populations in your state, district, or territory and can help in all stages of your state planning process. You can get started utilizing this system with the step-by-step Identifying 3-Tier Populations Worksheet by WOCN.
Key Steps in the Process:
- -Review documents in the Resources area.
- -Utilize the inward and outward reflection exercises to ground your goals, knowledge, and arenas of further exploration.
- -Start with your Team/Staff to review your state or territory’s Domestic Violence and/or Sexual Violence services data.
- -Using the definitions from the chart of un-served, underserved, and inadequately served populations, brainstorm with your Team/Staff to re-define the populations in your State, Territory, or jurisdiction as un-served, under-served, or inadequately served.
- -Choose one population established from Step Two and add other intersecting identities, factors, contexts, and/or attributes such as gender, mental health disabilities, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. Repeat as necessary.
Applying the 3-Tier System will:
- -Give you new ideas for reaching underserved populations;
- -Provide a new flexible framework for reaching and resourcing underserved populations;
- -Help to better identify gaps and challenges in your current processes and strategies;
- -Provide a clearer distinction among un-served, underserved, and inadequately served populations;
- -Help you recognize specific complexities of underserved populations;
- -Enable you to improve the specificity of services for diverse populations; and
- -Help you better articulate and communicate the intent of your funding and RFPs.
Many STOP Administrators have found relationship building and partnership development a concerted endeavor, but underscore its necessity to ensuring the input of 3-Tier System populations and the CBOs that represent them in order to move forward. Remember, there are challenges and barriers that may show up in various ways, but they are not impossibilities and should not halt the process.
Essential Tool #4
Promising Practices for Relationship-Building with 3-Tier System Populations
While most survivors have faced discrimination, women of color, Native women, queer people, refugees, and others from 3-Tier populations often find themselves pushed farthest from places where they should be served, supported, and empowered. Faced with unique challenges and barriers to seeking support, and receiving little access to adequate services, survivors often look for assistance from programs in their neighborhoods such as in youth and senior centers, faith institutions, immigrant and cultural centers, or vocational organizations.
These programs are often designed to serve the community with which a survivor specifically identifies. Many of these programs have a track record of serving survivors of violence but need opportunity and support so they can plan and strengthen their services. It is crucial to build relationships with such programs and assist them in improving and enhancing their services, ensure that they have adequate resources, as well as to support their ability to evaluate and bolster their community impact.
Essential Tool #6
Promising Practices for Providing Effective Technical Assistance to CBOs serving 3-Tier System Populations
Effective technical assistance (TA) for community-based organizations (CBOs) serving the 3-Tier Populations includes providing context-specific education, training, and resources to build and sustain organizational and programmatic capacity. This could mean TA about everything from strategic planning to grant compliance to coaching on grant writing to program evaluation and reporting.
In all cases, at the forefront of this work is TA that equips CBOs to successfully participate in federal and state-level grant systems. Given that 3-Tier populations are often already marginalized, it is vital that TA be designed to challenge and circumvent structural barriers that hinder the sustainability and success of CBOs serving these populations.
Through our work with STOP Administrators, WOCN can attest to the fact that many have the commitment, compassion, and capacity to ensure that technical assistance is available to CBOs. But CBOs must know about this opportunity and seek it.
During the WOCN STOP Administrator Action Meetings held in early 2013, a State Administrator asked one of the most important questions in regards to providing effective TA for CBOs serving 3-Tier Populations: “Why don’t [minority communities] come?” This question points to the need to examine the larger context of a limited access for and marginalization of 3-Tier populations, as well as the need for new marketing and outreach strategies to enable innovative, intentional, relevant, and successful outreach to 3-Tier populations and advocates.
Therefore, the three main questions that STOP Administrators should ask themselves for effective technical assistance are:
- -How do we get CBOs serving the 3-Tier Populations interested and to the TA table?
- -What technical assistance will best equip CBOs to successfully qualify for, participate in RFP processes, and receive sufficient grant funding?
- -What is the best way to assess capacity-building needs for CBOs serving 3-tier populations?
Essential Tool #7
Promising Practices for Initiating Innovative Funding Strategies to Support and Resource CBOs Serving 3-Tier System Populations
Especially as funds tighten and needs increase, it is difficult to reach all the communities we seek to support. Furthermore, it is often difficult to incorporate new groups in funding cycles. Still, it is important for STOP Administrators to provide equal access to participation in potential funding streams. For 3-Tier populations, the process of developing organizational and infrastructural capacity can take a number of years.
As one STOP Administrator noted, a focus on long-range planning and relationship-building as well as attention to CBO development is critical: “These projects take time to build and time to be successful. Funding cycles have to allow for time and costs that build success.” Essentially, there is no quick fix solution for ensuring that funding reaches across our communities. However, with commitment, time, and innovative RFPs & funding practices, we can get closer to expanding our reach to all communities.