Frequently Asked Questions when Launching a Program
or Home for Teen Moms
“I often receive phone calls from amazing people around the country who are interested in opening a home or starting a program to serve teen moms. It is such a blessing to know that God has placed a love for young moms in the hearts of so many people around the nation and even around the world!
Listed below are the questions I am most commonly asked. I am happy to schedule a half hour phone call with prospective ministry leaders as well. Blessings on your journey!"
Executive Director and Co-Founder of Hope House
What are the first steps?
I would advise starting with a prayer team of a few dedicated individuals who will pray for each step.
Then decide whether you want to form your own 501(c)3 non-profit organization or try to start your ministry under another non-profit organization's umbrella (i.e. your local church). If you want to start your own 501(c)3 non-profit, you will need to hire an attorney or find one who will volunteer their time. DO NOT try to do the paperwork yourself as it is very complex. If you do not have funds for this, write your very first fundraising letter to family and friends, spelling out your vision and asking for help with this initial step. Make sure to tell them in the letter that this donation will NOT be tax deductible. Only after you receive your 501(c)3 will donations become deductible.
Next find out if there is a local or state non-profit association where you can receive inexpensive training on how to open and run a non-profit. Colorado resources include:
• Colorado Non-profit Association
- phone number (303) 832-5710
• Community Resource Center
- phone number (303) 623-1540
Then develop a mission statement – even if you revise it as you go, this is a place to start. If you can clearly define WHO you want to serve, HOW you want to serve them, and WHAT you want the final result to be, then you can hold future decision making up to this statement as a guide when moving forward.
For instance, Hope House serves parenting teen moms, which is stated in the mission statement and backed up by Board-approved policy. This means that we have purposefully chosen a narrow service area, and when we receive a call from a teen mom who is pregnant with her first baby, we either refer her elsewhere or let her know that we would love to have her turn in an application after she delivers.
How do I form a board of directors?
In order to receive 501(c)3 status, you will be required to form a Development Board (Board of Directors). This should be made up of four to seven people, ideally including both men and women, who are passionate about your vision and cause and perhaps have some area of expertise (banking, real estate, social work, etc.). I suggest you include a few people who have some level of influence or a measure of wealth or folks who have access to wealth (real estate agents, hospitality professionals, bankers, anyone in finance, event planners, etc.). Most importantly, find a few folks who love the Lord and have the time and passion to help with a start-up.
What is a good way to go about getting funding?
Create a database, even if it's just an Excel spread sheet, for all of the names, addresses, e-mails, etc., of anyone you meet who is interested and wants to be informed about your progress. This will be the pool you will eventually use for your first fundraising event, first direct mail request, etc.
Send that first letter to friends and family (be sure to include a clear mission statement, a summary of your plan, and a compelling story about why you want to do this). Do not waste a ton of time trying to write grants - the typical non-profit raises 80% of its funds through individuals, so talk to everyone you know! Go to Rotary Clubs, churches, small groups -- anywhere you can share your vision -- and ask for help with start-up costs (note: you will need your 501(c)3 status first!).
Do I have to follow state regulations of some sort if we are a private non-profit?
It depends upon the state. Call your state office of childcare or find out who oversees group homes in your state. You may also need a "special use permit" for a group home in the city you end up in. This should not be a top priority until you actually have a better idea about your building. If you are 100% privately funded (meaning no government funding), then you may not be required to be licensed by the state.
How should I search for a building?
If there are some supportive services that you can offer WHILE you work on getting a building, that would be great. Ask your church for space. Start a Teen MOPS group. Get volunteers to run a support group, parenting class, activity -- whatever you can do to start building some experience working with teen moms. This will add to your validity. I can't help you with finding a building - that ends up being a God thing.
Do you have any resources for program advice?
Please visit the Hope House blog and look through the Archives on the right to view our 2016 Knowledge Share posts. You will find advice on everything from parenting education to GED strategies to healthy relationships and more.
Do you have suggestions regarding how to help teen moms overome the many barriers they face?
Yes! Please go to our blog archives and look at the 2015 Teen Mom Barrier posts. You will find our insight on many of the obstacles teen moms face here.
Do you have advice on how to help teen moms break out of generational poverty?
Simply click here and watch a video featuring our Community Program Manager, Jenny Macias, as she discusses how to help teen moms overcome generational poverty.
Can I meet with Lisa Steven, co-founder and Executive Director of Hope House, to ask specific questions?
If you would like to schedule a 30-minute phone consultation with Lisa, please contact Hannah Winn at Hannah@hopehouseofcolorado.org. We can also schedule a tour of our facilities and share our program information as able.