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EMPOWERING ADVOCACY: Compass launches the Family Advisory Committee

Updated: Feb 22

Last month, Compass officially inaugurated the first-ever Compass Family Advisory Committee (FAC), an eight member committee of parents receiving services at Compass. The FAC will meet twice per month to share feedback about Compass, advocate for committee-set priorities at the City Government, and create a community of family advocates. At the heart of the initiative is the recognition that families should play a pivotal role in improving the systems that impact their lives.

Meeting Highlights

  • Director of Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging, Rhett Burden, presented an overview of Compass and its programs, provided background on the history of housing discrimination and redlining in San Francisco, and facilitated a discussion on how family homelessness is inherently a race and equity issue.

  • Compass Family Resource Center’s Program Director, Erica Barajas, shared the pillars of the Family Resource Center, including the services they offer, the challenges they face, and their goals for the future.

  • Members asked the speakers questions and shared their thoughts and feedback on both Compass and the larger landscape of housing in San Francisco.

  • Members split into groups to play Compass trivia based on the two presentations for a chance to win prizes.

  • The meeting concluded with Compass staff asking parents what they liked about the meeting and what they would like to change or see more of in future meetings.

The founding of the FAC came about during strategic planning, driven by a desire to prioritize family voices in decisions both internally at Compass and externally when advocating for policy changes in San Francisco. Compass staff conducted outreach across the organization, along with applications and interviews, to identify a cohort of parents receiving services from Compass with diverse backgrounds and experiences, and a passion for advocacy and serving their community.

The Compass staff supporting the FAC have identified the following goals for the six-month initiative:

Community – Regular meetings among the cohort help members build a strong community and create a space for families to connect across different programs, foster solidarity, and feel supported in their unique challenges and experiences.

Learning – Presentations from speakers will aim to provide members with comprehensive knowledge about Compass’ services, so that they can understand the organization holistically, beyond just the programs they have participated in. Speakers will additionally provide education on historical inequities and advocacy to help members build their own advocacy toolkits.

Impact – The FAC was formed to listen to the expertise of families involved in Compass programs and to implement changes based on their feedback. The twice monthly meetings will provide opportunities for members to share their feedback with both Compass staff and community leaders. An advocacy day will be held in the Spring where the members will advocate for their policy priorities at City Hall. 

The initial FAC cohort will convene through June 2024, at which point Compass staff will analyze outcomes and ensure that members feel they gained valuable tools, resources, and connections from their experience to be able to continue advocating in their communities. Compass is pursuing ongoing funding for the FAC to ensure that it is a long-term project that is centrally embedded into Compass’ core continuum of services. As the initiative unfolds, it promises to be a transformative journey, with families at the forefront of shaping Compass’ impact on the community.


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