Project REVIVE Restoring Equality & Vitality in Vulnerable Environments

What if every child lived in a safe and healthy home, neighborhood, community and world?

Photo of April Merrill
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

I was working with a mom whose two young kids had each been to the emergency room with breathing difficulty, two times in the past six weeks. I found that within weeks of moving into a rent house, the family found raw sewage seeping through the floors. They reached out to the landlord with no results. I was able to legally get them out of the house, but the mom called saying the landlord moved a new family in. That is when I knew that we needed a community response.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

Website

https://www.facebook.com/ProjectReviveTulsa/
http://www.legalaidok.org

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Oklahoma

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Tulsa

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Oklahoma

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Tulsa

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Substandard, unsafe and unhealthy housing in Tulsa County. There has not been a community effort to create a standard for housing in this area and as a result low-income families and families of color are more likely to be living in these unsafe houses. The Health Department and the cities are responsible for code enforcement but they are limited in their powers.

In Tulsa County, children are sick and dying because of dangerous housing conditions. How can you have a strong sense of self, purpose or belonging when you don’t have a safe place to live? The data we are gathering will directly improve

patient care by giving pediatricians current information on the environment in which their patients live. Additionally, a community team will be working to elevate the standard of housing in our community by advocating for policy change and working with the Health Dept to bring poor housing partners to justice. 

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education
  • Mental Health
  • Other

If you chose "other," please share the sector you work within here:

Medical Care and Legal Care

Year Founded

2016

Project Stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

We are capturing a snapshot of what is going on in a child’s environment when they come to the doctor’s office unable to sleep well at night, or with anxiety, or difficulty breathing. Instead of relying only on parental reports, the pediatricians can know, for example, there were five fire calls, two violent crimes, and four housing code violations in the square mile, all in the last month. This will allow all professionals working with this family to have the context in which they are living, and treat them differently and hopefully, more effectively. This data will give the community a few hot spots to focus the efforts of nonprofits and government agencies to most efficiently elevate the standard of living for children.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We are in the start-up stage of development so we do not yet have the impact of this work. We are hopeful that we can use this research to improve the efficiency of medical and legal care, and reduce healthcare costs by addressing the root cause of illness and not just symptoms. We have been talking about the importance of social determinants of health for years, but have yet to put it into practice. This is our attempt at doing that.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • over $5mil

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

I have been working on this research project without a budget for the last six months. We have cultivated partnerships within the community, including The University of Oklahoma-Tulsa School of Community Medicine, OU-Tulsa Urban Design Studio, OU-Tulsa Pediatrics Department, Tulsa Fire, Tulsa Police and community non-profits. These partners have allowed us to start developing a model for replication nationwide that we hope to seek funding for.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

The variety of community collaborations make our program unique. We have benefited by having many different perspectives and experts weigh in on this pilot study. Our community team members have been excited to have an evidence-based study with which we can make a case for change in the social sector. This is truly a grassroots project that is aiming to improve physical health, mental health, housing, community well being and inequality. We are fortunate to have a community that is fed up with the current state of our poorest members and is willing to think creatively to help.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

I think the concepts that are emerging in child wellbeing will be around developing hope and resilience in children to help buffer them from the trauma they are living through. We can also measure hope and resilience. Infant mental health is an area with huge growth potential for working on building and nurturing attachment to change the trajectory of traumatized children's lives. We have historically focused on the areas of life that we can more easily control like school environment but we have to catch kids before that if we want to truly create change & opportunity to decrease poverty.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

Shelly Fowler, Grants Coordinator for Research at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa

Program Design Clarity

Our model is evidence based, so every location will have a bit of a different focus depending on their local issues. They will all be working towards creating a healthy home environment for children to live and grow into healthy citizens. We will gather data from police, fire, health department inspectors, assessors and if possible domestic violence organizations to map the social determinants of health that are all around us but rarely directly addressed. Once we are able to map these community issues, we can work with pediatric providers, and city and nonprofit leaders to target services.

Community Leadership

From the beginning this project has been about building a community response to a community issue, substandard housing. We have talked to more than 70 individuals in the community including police, fire, nonprofits, city services etc., to get their input on how best to address this issue. The consensus was to start with the evidence. We have gathered the data and are preparing for statistical analysis with our local university.

Age of Children Impacted

  • Pregnancy - 0
  • 0-1.5
  • 1.5 -3
  • 3 - 5
  • 6 - 12
  • 12+

Spread Strategies

From the beginning this project has been about building a community response to a community issue, substandard housing. We have talked to more than 70 individuals in the community including police, fire, nonprofits, city services etc., to get their input on how best to address this issue. The consensus was to start with the evidence. We have gathered the data and are preparing for statistical analysis with our local university.

Reflect on how your work helps children to thrive. How are you cultivating children’s sense of self, belonging, and purpose through your model?

It is very difficult to develop to your potential when you are living in an unsafe home with insect or rodent infestations, mold, electrical or structural issues. The community in which you live great impacts your development. If that community is full of crime, fire calls and domestic violence you will be living with toxic stress which we know changes the functioning of the brain and in particular impacts the frontal lobe, executive functioning.

Leadership Story

I knew from an early age, I watched my mother, an Elementary School Counselor, on the phone for hours after school, calling social services agencies to get services in place for students she was worried about. I saw time and time again where she would hit a "no" person but she didn't give up, she just moved up the line until she could find a "yes" person who was willing to help. Her tenacity taught me that you have to be a strong, dedicated advocate to truly help those in need. I went to law school to obtain that skill set to take that advocacy to the next level to improve children's lives.

Organization's Twitter Handle

@projectrevivetu

Organization’s Facebook Page (URL)

https://www.facebook.com/ProjectReviveTulsa/

Leader's LinkedIn Profile (URL)

https://www.linkedin.com/in/aprilmmerrill

Evaluation results

6 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 50%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 50%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 0%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 0%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 33.3%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 33.3%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 33.3%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 0%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 40%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 20%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 40%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 0%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 16.7%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 50%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 16.7%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 16.7%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 66.7%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 100%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 33.3%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 66.7%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 66.7%

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Attachments (2)

CHEDHousingComplaintsper100.pdf

This is a sample of our base map over housing density.

CHEDHousingComplaintdensity.pdf

This is a sample of our base map of housing code violations.

4 comments

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Photo of Leanne McEvoy
Team

Urban housing challenges are a much needed area of change for children and families.  I applaud the connection between housing and children's health and well being.  I look forward to watching your project http://evolve...as we need help in Bridgeport CT and so many other communities across the US.    You are changing lives!

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