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Many people want to do what they can to help homeless people throughout the county, and a new board has formed that could help donors and even cities decide which efforts they want to support.

The San Diego Taxpayers Educational Foundation is launching the board and will work with data scientists, experts, stakeholders and the general public to create regionally accepted standards that define good outcomes in public improvement efforts.

In announcing the launch Wednesday at the San Diego County Administration Building, foundation president Haney Hong said the board will develop rules and methods for reporting outcomes in programs aimed at the social and public good, with a focus on homelessness in its first year.

“The idea is to make reporting trustworthy and the methods used to collect the information regionally accepted so we can all be sure that public and philanthropic dollars are being used effectively as we work together to move the needle on issues like homelessness,” he said.

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The new Public Regional Outcomes Standards Board — which also will be known as the PROS Board — will issue reports throughout the year, but will not conclude which organization is making the best use of its dollars.

Rather, Hong said, the board’s work will create regionally accepted measurements for success that others can use in determining who to support.

The board also will look at what is not working, he said.

“A great example is, sometimes people are asked to measure the amount of clinical time they are spending,” he said. “But if you’re a service provider and that’s what you’re being asked to report and measure, it might incentivize you to see as many people as possible as opposed to spending quality time with those people.”

County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer also spoke at the launch announcement.

“What does success look like and how can we measure it?” she said. “That is the question I ask myself before embarking on a project.”

Lawson-Remer said in her past career in the U.S. Treasury Department and World Bank, her work involved looking at how government can better integrate evidence and data to make policies more efficient, effective and equitable.

“We’re doing this because it is our responsibility to be good stewards of public funds intended to improve the quality of life in our community,” she said, adding that community leaders too often are content with seeing short-term outcomes without regard for whether the dollars they spend are making a real difference.

Funders for the new project are the San Diego Foundation, Gwendolyn Sontheim and the Lucky Duck Foundation, which supports various efforts to help homeless people in San Diego.

Lucky Duck Foundation Executive Director Drew Moser said the PROS Board will help his and other groups in making future funding decisions.

“Improving the consistency and expectations of quantifying outcomes is critical to understanding how effective our region is in addressing homelessness,” he said. “Like taxpayers, donors need and deserve to understand who is making the highest and best use of their resources and who is doing high-impact work. We believe the PROS Board will provide exactly that. The result will not only generate stronger outcomes, but it will also give philanthropists more confidence and a better understanding of the impacts of their giving.”

San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness CEO Tamera Kohler said service providers often report success in different ways, and the PROS Board will create a standardized method that can be used by the region.

The San Diego Taxpayers Educational Foundation provides research and educational programming for the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and the general public.

Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com

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