1000 Feathers

Achieving the Impossible 

The Path to Equitable Health Outcomes

Morgan Roberts, Intern

I recently joined the 1000 Feathers team and was given the opportunity to listen to 1000 Feathers president Forrest Alton talk about equity in the healthcare system. This is not something that I would have claimed to know much about, but after hearing his speech, I believe it is a conversation that we all should have. 

“Talking about equity and health equity and reducing health disparities, requires us to get our hands dirty and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” 

That was how Forrest dove into his talk at the Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy in January.  

Equity is a multi-faceted, messy issue that stems from generations of institutional, systemic barriers put in place to separate people by race, class, or gender. So how can we do a better job of addressing health equity? 

Here are four tips that Forrest gave during his speech:  

1. Acknowledge the Challenge 

“We have to acknowledge that health disparities and inequities are not the result of (s)he made good decisions, and (s)he didn’t.” 

It’s so much more complicated than that! To get a better understanding, we must dive deep into existing data, monitor history and trends, and explore as much as we can. This requires us to be life-long learners, questioning everything and understanding the journey that people have to go through. We need to recognize the role that we can, and should play in this journey. 

 

2. Get Proximate 

“If you are willing to get closer to people who are suffering, you will find the power to change the world”  –Bryan Stevenson (colleague and friend of Forrest)

Get close, get out of the classroom. Talk to people. Learn their stories, find out what the challenges are right from the source. This might mean holding community forums, interviews, focus groups, or town hall meetings. It might just mean getting out from behind your desk and talking with people. You have to be willing to get proximate and get your hands dirty to get the results you seek. It is important to invite the people who are suffering the most into the conversations about solutions. 

3, Keep Learning 

“I left Coastal Carolina with my undergraduate degree and my chest puffed out, confident that I knew everything. I left my first job in Georgetown, South Carolina three years later very sure that I knew nothing.” 

We are life-long learners–this has to be true. Over time we have learned that sometimes, something that seems like it’s helping can actually cause a bigger gap of disparity to grow. We cannot just put forth a solution and move on. We must always be learning–from the past, from our mistakes, from others. Learning how to do things better, how to fix the mistakes, and how to improve. We can always do better. 

4. Accelerate Diversification 

“Spend time with people who don’t think like you, look like you, and act like you–that is the only path forward to solving issues around equity and diversity.” 

You can’t solve every problem by yourself, but you can become a part of a community, part of a different group of people at the table who are having conversations about these issues. Tackling the real issues that people in communities are facing isn’t something that should be done alone. Reach out, partner, engage, build a bigger tent. 

To listen to the full speech and learn more about equity in healthcare, click here

1000 Feathers’ Newest Team Member

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Meet our new intern!

Morgan Roberts is a senior at the University of South Carolina majoring in public relations and minoring in Spanish. She is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, but decided to venture south for college to escape the cold Michigan winters. Morgan has previously interned for both the Palmetto Health Foundation and South Carolina Future Minds but is excited to step out of the nonprofit world and work for 1000 Feathers this semester. An involved member of her campus, Morgan is a member of Sigma Delta Pi Spanish honors fraternity, as well as the collegiate public relations society, PRSSA. She loves her community, volunteering for organizations like Palmetto Health Richland Children’s Hospital and EdVenture’s after-school children’s program. Morgan loves traveling and has been to 20 countries around the world, most recently during a semester-long study abroad in Ireland. She is expected to graduate in May and is looking for public relations jobs along the east coast.

Welcome to the team, Morgan!

Midlands Anchor Features Upcoming Conference

Our President Forrest Alton recently sat down with Midlands Anchor to discuss the upcoming Taking the Non Out of Nonprofit conference scheduled for Sept. 13, 2017. Early bird registration is open through Aug. 9 so take advantage of the discount before it expires.

Taking the Non Out of Nonprofit

We are thrilled to partner with Venture Carolina and VentureSouth to bring a first-of-its-kind seminar to Columbia, SC on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Taking the Non Out of Nonprofit will bring together leaders from the nonprofit community alongside individual investors to discuss the importance of nonprofits operating more like businesses and less like charities. At the same time, we are excited that this will give us an opportunity to spotlight the amazing work currently being done by nonprofits across the state! 

The lineup of speakers and participants is nothing short of amazing. Check out the line-up and then register today because the early bird saves money. From now until August 9, registrants will enjoy a $30 discount. And while there is a lot of buzz around this event, space is limited, so we encourage those who are interested to register early!

Finally, what's really exciting about this event is the Innovation Challenge. Nonprofits from across the Southeast have the opportunity to have their good ideas not only heard, but funded. During the seminar on Sept. 13, Venture Carolina will give one lucky winner $5,000 to help bring a profitable idea to life.

Ready. Set. Register!

Save the Date: 9.13.17

This September, we are partnering with Venture Carolina and VentureSouth to bring a unique, one-day seminar to Columbia, SC. Taking the Non Out of Nonprofit will bring together nonprofit executives, development directors and board members with industry leaders from across the state to help our social service community think less like a charity and more like a business. 

"Our hope is to help bridge the divide between nonprofits and entrepreneurship," said Charlie Banks, managing partner of VentureSouth. 

Registration will open in June along with the Innovation Challenge, where a select group of nonprofits will have the opportunity to present their profitable ideas to a panel of investors and funders, modeled after the popular show Shark Tank®. The pool of candidates will be culled down to three who will present during the conference on September 13. The winning proposal will receive a $5,000 award to fund the development and expansion of their effort.

For more information, visit www.VentureCarolina.org.  

South Carolina Rural Health Action Plan Released

In May, we were honored to stand alongside the South Carolina Office of Rural Health and the South Carolina Rural Health Action Plan Task Force to unveil the initial recommendations of the Rural Health Action Plan for our state. It was a pleasure and a privilege to lead this group of 50+ individuals over the past eight months.

Throughout the course of our eight meetings, the Task Force culled through a number of issues and concerns, heard from content experts, gathered feedback from community members, and were presented supporting literature and data. Ultimately, the group landed on five key areas of focus necessary to improve the health of rural communities in South Carolina: Access to Health Care; Community Assets, Leadership & Engagement; Economic Development; Education; and Housing.

The full report will be released on November 16 as part of National Rural Health Day, but be sure to review the initial recommendations and send us your feedback.

http://scorh.net/south-carolina-rural-health-action-plan/

Isaiah Nelson Joins Firm as Mobilization Strategist

The team at 1000 Feathers is pleased to announce the hire of Isaiah Nelson as Mobilization Strategist. Isaiah, a 2012 graduate of the College of Charleston Honors College and former student body president of the College, has been engaged on electoral and mobilization projects over the last four years. A former intern for the Office of Public Engagement in the White House and a veteran of multimillion dollar Congressional, Mayoral and Gubernatorial campaigns in multiple states, Isaiah will work with our clients as we look to make meaningful impacts in communities throughout the country.

"As our firm continues to grow, we're always on the lookout for top talent that can add to our service delivery," said Forrest Alton, President of 1000 Feathers. "Isaiah's understanding of policy work, community organizing and mobilization fit a need for us, and we are thrilled to welcome him to the team. He brings great value and experience to a number of existing projects and will add to our menu of services for new clients."

Look for the Helpers

We are barely three weeks into 2017 and what a year it has been already. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when Heather and I launched our consulting firm late in 2016, but it has, so far, been a journey like no other I’ve ever been on.

In a short time, our work has taken us across South Carolina and across the country.

  • On one of our projects, we’ve spent time reading, listening to residents, asking questions of the experts, and trying to better understand the challenges and barriers that exist to health and well-being in rural South Carolina. The challenges are real, significant, and deep-rooted.

  • Our team is back and forth weekly to Charlotte, NC working with a group of funders and philanthropists to develop a system of change that presents greater opportunity for the citizens of Mecklenburg County. Certainly not rural America, but the metro has its own challenges.

  • We are preparing to lead a board/staff retreat next week for a statewide nonprofit who is poised and ready to tackle the significant challenge of affordable, reliable housing in South Carolina.

  • Our travels have also taken us to Waco, TX, Tulsa, OK, and Washington, DC. All unique communities with their own challenges centered around race, poverty, and access to health, education, and financial resources.

What’s striking to me is that despite differences in size, region of the country, and demographics, the challenges in these communities are all very similar. From rural South Carolina, to metro-Charlotte, to the “heart of Texas;” all different communities with familiar challenges.

What’s even more striking is the massive number of helpers we have come into contact with. Without exception, one of the first things I notice when visiting a new community is that the helpers are already in place! So many kind and caring souls giving their all, dedicating financial resources and human capital to the causes that matter.

It was Mr. Rogers who reminded us that “when (you) see scary things… look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Indeed.

Having recently celebrated a “day of service” in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s fitting to point out how many helpers there are among us. It’s also not lost on me that we are mere hours away from the Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States. To be sure, with so much uncertainty in front of us, those helpers will be more important than ever. So, my message to you today and in the days ahead is two-fold:

If you need help, whatever that means to you, please don’t be ashamed to reach out. If you are a helper, please don’t be afraid to stand up and make yourself available! 

President Forrest Alton Appears on the Giving Connection

Our President Forrest Alton recently sat down with the Waco Foundation in Waco, Texas to give expert commentary on teen pregnancy prevention efforts across the country, specifically what he helped to accomplish in South Carolina through his role as CEO of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The full broadcast can be found below.

1000 Feathers Launches to Bridge Divide Between Strategy and Vision

With challenges mounting for those in the social service sector and pressure to perform at an all-time high, Forrest Alton and Heather Brandt have launched a new consulting firm, 1000 Feathers, to combat these challenges and assist nonprofits and social service organizations, thus bridging the divide between vision and strategy and leading to meaningful results and community change.

After spending the last 10 years serving as the Chief Executive Officer of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Forrest Alton stepped down earlier this year to focus his energy on launching this new firm. In partnership with his wife, Heather Brandt, Alton has formed a team that understands the importance of strategic thinking, planning and performance, and collectively brings more than 40 years of combined experience in communities – working directly with foundations, nonprofits and government agencies.

"Our main value is to always remain client-centered, to present an approach to problem solving that results in our team working with our clients, not for them,” said Alton, who is serving as the President of the new firm. “Collectively our team has learned a lot about what it takes to create measurable change in communities. Most importantly, we have learned that there’s a big disconnect between the needs of communities, the vision of philanthropists, and the organizational strategies in the social service sector.”

In addition to bringing the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors closer together, 1000 Feathers also seeks to provide aggressive leadership development to help prepare organizations to better handle a changing landscape.

“Projecting out over the next several years, we are beginning to realize the combined impact of retiring baby boomers, changing approaches to funding and philanthropy, and a more crowded than ever nonprofit sector. There’s a need to create a space for more strategic thinking, bigger and bolder visions, and data-driven decision making,” said Brandt. While Brandt will maintain her current positions within the University of South Carolina, she will also serve as the company’s owner and will contribute to all major research projects.

The work of 1000 Feathers is based on the premise that a strong vision combined with thoughtful strategy is the only path to measurable results and real community change. But, what Brandt and Alton have uncovered through their professional careers and service on multiple state and national boards, is that there are a lot of moving parts to the “strategy + vision = results” formula, and often organizations and communities never get to the end results they desire. To create a meaningful experience for their future clients, 1000 Feathers will offer services focused on four key areas: executive consultation and leadership training; strategic thinking and planning; market engagement and communications; and research development and organization expansion.