Using Quality Improvement Methods to Combat Poverty: Northeast Wisconsin’s POINT Initiative

The Poverty Outcomes and Improvement Network Team (POINT) initiative has provided a results-oriented project showing that quality improvement methods are relevant to the work of nonprofits.

The nonprofits involved in the project used quality improvement methods to understand and improve their processes, enabling them to help more people find good paying jobs, housing, and other resources. They were supported by funders, government agencies, and local businesses and manufacturers, who volunteered some of their continuous improvement coaches.

Participants learned how to set aims, map their work processes, and use run charts, client surveys, and other data to gauge their progress. The goal was to help these organizations become even more effective by coaching them in how to improve.

The run chart data revealed that sending clinical staff to warming shelters to provide blood pressure checks and other basic services was particularly effective, as it forged bonds between providers and residents and thus helped staff fill appointments at the new clinic.

This included quickly testing new approaches on a small scale. For example, one idea might help individuals experiencing homelessness secure permanent housing, or help families recover from domestic violence, drug addiction, and other issues.

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