Vision125 FAQ

On October 11, 2018, United South End Settlements (USES) held an open meeting (the third in a series of meetings related to our strategic plan) to update the community that we are exploring one of the real estate options that was shared at a community meeting last year (December 2017). To this end, we are:

exploring the development of a new Harriet Tubman House at our existing 48 Rutland Street location;
thereby seeking proposals for our property at 566 Columbus Avenue.

Our goals are to:

1) preserve USES’s mission for future generations
2) serve more children and families in our community,
3) honor our history and Harriet Tubman’s legacy, and
4) ensure USES’s financial sustainability for many years to come.

We will carefully review all proposals carefully. No decisions have been made at this time.

Questions related to real estate:

What will happen to 566 Columbus Avenue?

This fall, as a continuation of our Vision125 strategic planning process, we are exploring one of the real estate options we shared at a community meeting last year, which includes seeking proposals for our property at 566 Columbus Avenue.

In our Request for Proposals, we have asked responding parties to submit proposals that incorporate a mix of uses that offer significant public or community benefit. We will review all proposals carefully with this in mind. No decisions have been made at this time.

What is the timeline for reviewing proposals and determining whether to sell 566 Columbus Avenue? 

We anticipate a four to five-month process of reviewing proposals. However, the timeline for next steps depends upon a variety of factors; most importantly, the quality of the proposals we receive.

We will review all proposals carefully with this in mind. No decisions have been made at this time.

Will the community have a chance to give input on the proposals?

Our Real Estate Committee, which is comprised of USES board members, community members and real estate experts, along with our Board of Directors and President and CEO, Maicharia Weir Lytle, will review all proposals carefully and determine next steps based on the goals outlined in our Vision125 strategic plan.

We remain committed to being transparent throughout our strategic planning process and will continue to keep the community updated. Our next community meeting will take place in early 2019.

For those who want to stay connected and receive updates, the best options are to go to www.uses.org, scroll to the bottom of the page, and sign up for our newsletter, and to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Will USES lose impact in the community if it sells 566 Columbus?

It’s important to note that 566 Columbus Avenue is not the original site of the Harriet Tubman House. As USES has evolved and reinvented itself, the Tubman house has moved before. In 1975, the original Harriet Tubman House (founded in 1904) moved from Holyoke Street to Columbus Avenue. Harriet Tubman’s legacy will always be an important part of our history.

Our impact is not based on the buildings we own. Our programs for children and families, our dedicated staff and board members, and our many participants throughout the community are the backbone of USES, and our buildings are meant to support our work. Our ability to evolve over time to serve our community is one of the reasons USES has remained vital for more than 125 years.

When would construction begin at 48 Rutland Street?

We are still exploring the development of a new Harriet Tubman House at Rutland Street.

The timeline depends on a number of factors including being able to finance the project.

Will programs at 48 Rutland Street be closed during construction?

No. We’ve developed a timeline for construction that would occur in phases to ensure that programs would remain open throughout the building process.

How long will it take to build the new Harriet Tubman House at 48 Rutland?

Should we move forward, there are variables that can impact the timeline for any construction project, but we estimate that it would be roughly a year-long project from start to finish.

Questions related to programs:

Why has USES refocused on a new model that specifically targets children and their families?

High inequality persists, especially among our youngest, most vulnerable residents: children. We believe families are the foundation of successful communities. As families stabilize, become resilient, and build a diverse network, parents/caregivers and their children are more likely to develop the skills they need to succeed.

We launched our renewed vision to disrupt the persistent cycle of poverty in our community by helping children and their families leverage resources to achieve economic mobility. The decisions that brought us to this point of renewal centered on mission alignment and desired impact, real estate alignment, and financial sustainability.

How is the new USES model of service different today?

We’ve shifted to a model in which we work with both children and their parents/caregivers – a two-generational approach to disrupting the cycle of poverty. Over time, families will have a single point of entry, or intake, where we’ll help low- and moderate- income adults develop or fine-tune their goals, identify their own strengths, ensure that they have a plan for achieving those goals and support them in their journey while we provide education and enrichment programs to children. We have also been involving community members in a more meaningful way as we develop a diverse network that fosters meaningful relationships between families – building social capital.

Is USES hoping to enroll a larger number of participants in programs in the future through the new program model?

Today, our programs serve more than 300 children and families. We are working to engage at least 1,000 children and families over the next five years. Our more focused programming embraces families with a holistic range of programs that they need through every stage of their children’s development—from infancy through young adulthood—to achieve economic mobility and “whole family” well-being.

Why did USES close some programs and not others?

Our limited resources could not continue to support a siloed programming model. We closed programs that did not align directly with our renewed strategic vision so that we could focus on having a greater impact on children and families.

Why did USES end senior services?

Seniors are a rich part of the fabric of this community with much to contribute. We’ve always cherished our seniors and are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to their lives. Last year, we transitioned our existing senior services programs to experienced organizations that can serve our seniors with programs that are similar to those we previously offered.

We are engaging seniors in a different way – as volunteers in our programs with children and adults. Seniors bring a wealth of expertise and experience, and are enable to engage directly in our classrooms, and in meaningful projects in partnership with our admin and management staff.

Why did USES close its Adult Basic Education program that enabled participants to earn a GED?

We’ve realigned our workforce readiness programming from a model centered on adult basic education to one strategically centered on career coaching, 21st century skills building, and job training. We are having a greater impact by concentrating our resources on helping participants enter the workforce more quickly, stay in the workforce, and develop next steps in a career pathway.

Will Camp Hale be affected by the Vision125 changes?

Camp Hale is a critical part of USES’s model. In October 2018, we broke ground on phase one of planned renovations for the camp facilities. Our goal is to expand camp activities year-round and increase the number of campers we serve each summer from roughly 200 to 300. The resilience of our campers and the benefits of the relationships formed in this diverse setting are an inspiration to our entire model and shine through in our newly defined outcomes of resources, resilience, and relationships.

Why is USES changing its program model?

USES has a long history of reinventing itself. Today, we are at another critical time in our history where we have:

revitalized our programs to better meet the needs of our community – focusing on providing education and enrichment opportunities for children and their parents (a holistic approach to breaking the cycle of poverty);
an opportunity to reimagine our existing property at 48 Rutland Street to support and grow our new programming model to serve more children and families; and
an obligation to secure our financial future for many years to come.

Over these next five years, USES is doubling down on our mission and the dedication we’ve always had to families. Our history as a part of the settlement house movement keeps us connected to our roots, and to our core values. It’s important for us to reflect on where we’ve been as we’re focusing on an exciting future.

Questions about timeline and getting involved:

How many years will it take for USES to complete all of the elements of the strategic plan?

Complex problems require complex solutions, and our plan to achieve a new vision and reach sustainability will unfold over five years (FY18-22). This includes significant changes impacting our program model, organizational structure, facilities, financial model, and performance management. Increased fundraising is necessary to unlock changes related to new positions and enhanced facilities. Our timeline could shift due to the availability of funding, the real estate market, or other factors beyond our control. To learn more, contact Nikki Stewart, Vice President of Development, at nstewart@uses.org

How can the community get involved in Vision 125?

We are incredibly grateful for the support we’ve received from USES families, staff members, donors, partners, community members, public officials, and others throughout our strategic planning process.

We continue to welcome your feedback on our strategic plan at vision125@uses.org.

For those who want to stay connected, the best options are to go to www.uses.org, scroll to the bottom of the page, and sign up for our newsletter, and to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Who can we reach out to with additional questions?

Nikki Stewart, Vice President of Development at nstewart@uses.org or
Emma MacDonald, Director of Marketing and Communications at emacdonald@uses.org

Regarding Programs – Julie Burkley, Vice President of Programs at jburkley@uses.org

For more information on our strategic plan, visit www.uses.org/vision125.