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The values at the core of our awareness campaign
Human Services Works is…A statewide public awareness and advocacy campaign to enhance the conversation about what makes Illinois communities strong

Human services are usually viewed as a series of specific programs that address specific needs. There is less discussion about how these programs and issues are interwoven and interconnected.

Policy makers often focus too much on the immediate costs of programs rather on their longer-term benefits.

Human Services Works is an initiative by several leading Illinois organizations to enhance the conversation about the investments Illinois makes in its people.

The campaign is focused on:
• Showing the many ways human services is confronting the issues that are important to all of us and how those issues are inter-related.
• Celebrating and profiling the smart and talented people who work in human services and are delivering value every day.
• Being a curator of the data and research into the specific returns on investment for human services.

The campaign is targeted to:
• Policy makers and opinion leaders
• Business leaders
• Media
• Anyone who cares about the pressing issues of our time

The concept of the campaign:
In 2012, Illinois Partners for Human Service and a coalition of human service organizations, including Chicago Alliance for Collaborative Effort, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, Forefront and the Chicago Community Trust, came together around a need to rethink and reframe the human services “brand” in Illinois. A planning grant was awarded to conduct focus groups throughout the state with business and civic leaders, as well as philanthropists, with the hope to gauge the community’s understanding of human services. The research demonstrated that this influential group of individuals did not have a keen understanding of the overall value of human services to our communities; their social and economic benefit but more importantly the detriment to well-being when services are not provided. Like the general public, the business leaders were unaware of the inter-connectivity of services; therefore making it impossible to prioritize one over another and especially with state appropriations. As a result, a new framework was developed to ensure more sustained state funding and supportive policies.

Human Services Works is a campaign to begin the task of telling the human services story in a more forthright, proactive and cohesive manner.  As the name implies, Human Services Works is founded on three principle messages:

  • Human services are interconnected and address some of society’s most plaguing issues such as economic development, education, healthcare, crime and poverty.
  • Human services provide a return on investment to the public and other stakeholders.
  • Human services are provided by highly trained, highly-skilled and dedicated professionals.

National Human Services Assembly (NHSA)
Around the same time that Illinois Partners was developing its campaign and reframing messaging, the National Human Services Assembly (NHSA), partnered with the Frameworks Institute, undertook a similar project funded by the Kresge Foundation. NHSA developed research which showed that even when audiences have an understanding of what human services does, they question its efficacy. In response, Frameworks developed core narrative to distill negative perceptions and improve public support.

For more information about the National Human Services Assembly, please visit their website. Information from the Frameworks Institute and their research can be found on their website.

Human Services Works: Enhancing the conversations about investments in people


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Our sector is stronger when it speaks with a shared voice. From advocacy tools to reframing human services, find the resources you need to engage leaders and change the conversation on human services.

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