Reframing newsletter

National Assembly Urges Broader Community of Influencers to Adopt Reframing

September 20, 2018

A Call to Action for Human Service Advocates: If You Want a Different Result, Tell a Different Story,” by Lee Sherman, President and CEO of the National Human Services Assembly, and Bridget Gavaghan, Director of the National Reframing Initiative, in the September 3, 2018 Philanthropy Journal, argues for broad-based adoption of reframing.

Human services build and maintain well-being at all life stages to allow everyone to have “the opportunity to reach their full potential and make meaningful civic, social, cultural, and economic contributions” so our country prospers. As noted in the last newsletter, however, human service organizations often find themselves on the defensive responding to funding cut proposals and “sidelined in important debates about how public policies should be crafted.”

As the National Reframing Initiative has advanced the sector’s implementation of The FrameWorks Institute’s recommended Building Well-Being Narrative, partners say “they are starting to see real changes in how civic and community leaders are responding to them.” Among the key lessons identified through their efforts are “an established commitment, intensive trainings, and ongoing technical assistance to build capacity for using the frame consistently and across communications platforms.”

To achieve comprehensive national adoption of the Building Well-Being Narrative, the authors assert

“[i]t is clear that increased and enhanced engagements both within and beyond the human service sector are required to produce the large-scale change in public thinking and political will that the National Assembly envisions.”

In order to amplify its messages and prevent reinforcing public misconceptions, the National Reframing Initiative recognizes the need to broaden our coalition beyond human service providers to prospective partners such as

“[p]olicy think tanks, advocacy organizations, policymakers, foundations, and the media who cover our stories [and] hold a tremendous amount of influence in shaping public understanding of our sector.”

As next steps for reframing, we seek to engage and energize these influential national allies, alongside human service organizations, in reframing efforts to galvanize public support for “the critical local, state, and national human services that build the strong communities from which we all benefit.” We also urge state and local human service organizations to expand their coalitions through the following steps:

  1. Identify influencers such as policymakers, funders, reporters, advocacy organizations, and policy think tanks who have championed human services.
  2. Express appreciation for their support through specific examples.
  3. Share the challenges of the public’s current views of our sector identified by The FrameWorks Institute.
  4. Explain the significance and goals of the reframing initiative.
  5. Ask for their help, providing specific suggestions, in conveying the sector’s story in a way that portrays a more accurate sense of who we are, what we do, and the community who benefits.

Tell us how your organization is encouraging allies associated with the human service sector to adopt the Building Well-Being Narrative, or pose any questions you have, by emailing Bridget at


In “Coming Together to Create the Child Welfare System We All Want”, Susan Dreyfus, CEO of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, a reframing partner, evokes the Building Well-Being Narrative to advance implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act that prioritizes prevention in child welfare. Using the value of collective well-being and the construction metaphor, Dreyfus’ column, in the September 12, 2018 issue of The Chronicle of Social Change asserts that “our nation’s future vitality depends upon all children having the opportunity to grow into healthy, successful, socially and civically engaged adults” which “require[s] that everyone – from the public to the private sector – come together to create and implement a thoughtful and carefully planned blueprint for change.”