Located in the heart of West Baltimore, Center for Urban Families (CFUF) serves an area that is beset with significant poverty, crime, and racial inequity. Founded in 1999 with a mission to “disrupt poverty,” CFUF has served more than 28,000 members, placed 3,779 members in full-time jobs from 2010 through 2016, and touched nearly 62,000 children whose parents were CFUF members. The organization has received national attention for its work, hosting President Barack Obama in 2013. During the visit, the President spoke about his upbringing without a father and lauded the fathers there for working with CFUF to change their lives. “For your sons to see you taking this path,” the President said, “that’s going to make all the difference in the world.”
Yet, the organization is driven to do more and has grappled with challenging questions as it has grown and evolved: What does the organization’s mission of “disrupting poverty” mean as the community’s extraordinary needs evolve? What form of outcomes does the community and its families need to achieve? How could CFUF redesign its governance model and organizational design to increase capacity? What information does CFUF need to evaluate and refine its programs more effectively? How could the organization leverage and expand on its existing corporate and non-profit partnerships? How could the leadership team build internal capacity and create a culture that maximized impact? In a racially charged climate, how could CFUF serve as a unifying force?