What is Footbridge for Families?
Footbridge for Families is a secure platform that directs community donations to families facing short-term financial crises. Our goals are to 1.) protect children by relieving the stress that caregivers face in financial crises; 2.) give families an opportunity to ask for the help they need and avoid more costly interventions; and 3.) give donors a clear, trustworthy means of helping their community members’ real needs in real time.
Footbridge harnesses the desire of those who seek to give and directs it, as efficiently as possible, to the most time-sensitive financial needs that families face. The organization fills a crucial gap in our society’s prevention landscape by acknowledging that a short-term financial crisis can lead to exponentially worse circumstances and offers a solution to the financial challenges that families face. This model diverges from today’s dominant paradigm in which tax-dollars and donations meant for families in need are filtered through several levels of intermediaries and directed toward services that professionals have deemed worthwhile, rather than directly to needs and solutions offered by families themselves.
How does Footbridge help my community?
Footbridge helps both individuals and society-at-large in seven key ways:
1. It gives families an easy-to-use platform to anonymously share their precise needs and have their needs met without having to worry about “marketing” their story in a way that catches the public’s attention.
2. It meets financial obligations that families face during a short-term financial crisis at the time they need the help, as opposed to when it’s too late.
3. It reduces the burden on the overall social welfare system by preventing people from needing to rely on more costly safety net programs.
4. It collects and provides accurate data on the real needs that families face, which enables social welfare providers to develop better solutions for these problems.
5. It gives frontline professionals a tool to help families, which strengthens the relationships that they have with families.
6. It gives community members an opportunity to support their neighbors by directly meeting their most pressing needs, which ultimately helps build stronger communities.
7. It addresses the important need among community members to feel a sense of agency in today’s society by truly helping others. Unfortunately, the magnitude of need that families face has given rise to a difficult-to-navigate market of nonprofits. Families, who are meant to always benefit from these services, sometimes do and sometimes don’t. Most importantly, the actual needs they face—the ones that could be met that would enable them the most dignity —are not prioritized in today’s nonprofit sector. Footbridge cuts through the noise of founder-driven missions by giving primacy to families’ stated needs.
How does Footbridge work?
Frontline professionals (pediatricians, child welfare workers, and others) register as “Referral Partners” and sign an agreement with Footbridge through our online platform. This allows them to submit requests on behalf of families with children 18 years old and younger.
Once a request is submitted, a Footbridge case coordinator reaches out to the family to better understand their situation and determine if Footbridge assistance of $600 or less is the best solution for their financial crisis (see our eligibility guidelines), as well as to offer additional resources. This is done in partnership with PA 211 Southwest, powered by the United Way.
If financial assistance through Footbridge is deemed necessary and appropriate, our case coordinator works with the family to identify and process a one-time payment to a third party (e.g., utility company, landlord). We communicate all actions and outcomes to the family and Referral Partner.
How can I help?
If you would like to donate to support families in need, simply click “donate now” at the top of our website and you will be redirected to our secure donation page.
One of our core missions is to build a stronger sense of community for individuals and to that end, we want you to know about families for whom your contributions have made an impact. Each contribution, whether it is once or on a recurring basis, will be followed up with a thank you from our organization informing you of some of the anonymized needs that you have met.
If you would like to learn more about volunteering or otherwise supporting our mission, please use the Contact Us form on our website.