SOAR January eNews

January 2017 eNews from the SOAR TA Center
January 2017 eNews from the SOAR TA Center
January eNews

2017 SOAR CoC Awards

This year, 23 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Continua of Care (CoCs) around the country expressed interest in receiving technical assistance from the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center. The 10 applications were well-qualified, which made this a competitive year. The SOAR TA Center was able to select six CoCs for the technical assistance award. Congratulations to the selected CoCs:
  1. California 523: Colusa, Glenn, and Trinity Counties
  2. California 602: Santa Ana, Anaheim, and County of Orange
  3. Illinois 502: Waukegan, North Chicago, and Lake County
  4. Illinois 510: City of Chicago
  5. Illinois 515: South Central Illinois
  6. Indiana 500: Indianapolis
With the assistance of the SOAR TA Center, each CoC lead will attend a Leadership Academy and organize a SOAR implementation meeting in their community. Thank you to all of the CoCs that applied—your dedication to SOAR is inspiring. Keep SOARing!
DC Leadership Academy Graduates

SOAR Leadership Academy

Washington, D.C. Leadership Academy Recap

From December 6 to 8, 2016, the SOAR TA Center facilitated a SOAR Leadership Academy in Washington, D.C. Jen Elder, Pam Heine, and Dazara Ware of the SOAR TA Center facilitated the training. There were 26 participants representing 18 states and districts (AZ, DC, DE, FL, HI, ID, KS, KY, LA, MD, MN, ND, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, and RI). Participants were joined by representatives from SAMHSA (Dr. Jean Bennett, Region 3 Administrator; Robert Grace, SOAR Contracting Officer Representative; Angela Houde, Homeless Programs Branch; and Luis Vasquez, Division of Service and Systems Improvement Director) and Disability Determination Services (DDS; Nicole Spector, Medical Liaison Officer). The representatives provided expert guidance throughout the Leadership Academy on collaborating with SAMHSA programs and DDS to increase access to Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits.
Throughout the 3 days of training, there was enthusiastic participation and genuine warmth; a true testament to the participants' commitment to learning how to use SOAR to achieve their goals of ending homelessness in their communities. Congratulations to our new graduates! We are excited to see you SOAR!

Who Should Attend the SOAR Leadership Academy?

Every year each state receives two spots for Local Leads to attend the SOAR Leadership Academy. The Leadership Academies are held four times a year at various cities across the country and are no cost to the participant. SOAR local leads who attend the Leadership Academy become the point person for SOAR in their community and are responsible for growing and guiding the SOAR initiative in their community. 
You may be a good candidate to become a SOAR Local Lead if you…
  • Have experience completing SSI/SSDI applications using the SOAR model (recommended but not required)
  • Are invested in SOAR and the success of SOAR within your community
  • Have the time and ability to work with multiple agencies and/or the Continuum of Care within your community
  • Have the capacity to lead a SOAR steering committee and follow-up with trainees regarding outcomes
  • Will maintain and update your community's SOAR action plan
  • Will be able to conduct 1-day SOAR Fundamentals trainings for individuals who successfully complete the SOAR Online Course
When considering who should attend the SOAR Leadership Academy, it is important to determine if the individual has the time and desire to commit to the leadership position. Some of the roles and responsibilities of SOAR local leads post-Leadership Academy include:
  • Conducting periodic 1-day SOAR Fundamentals trainings for those who have completed the SOAR Online Course to refresh SOAR core elements and provide guidance on state-specific SOAR processes
  • Following up with SOAR trainees in regular meetings to discuss issues and progress on completing applications
  • Collaborating with community providers and local SSA and DDS contacts to plan, implement, and support local SOAR initiatives
  • Working closely with the State Team Lead and the SOAR TA Center to carry out the SOAR implementation plan in their region and tracking and reporting outcomes
The SOAR TA Center is now accepting applications for the following Leadership Academies:
  • February 7-9, 2017: Des Moines, Iowa
  • May 2-4, 2017: Portland, Maine
  • August 29-31, 2017: Detroit, Michigan
If you know someone who would be a great SOAR Local Lead, contact your SOAR TA Center liaison.
January 12, 19, and 26, 2016; 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET
Grab some hot chocolate, coffee, or a cup of tea, and join us over three consecutive Thursdays to hear stories from SOAR communities, SSA and DDS specialists, and a medical provider on how they have improved SOAR applications by building relationships of mutual respect and trust in order to accomplish a great deal for SOAR applicants. You will also learn how to apply these best practices to creating or improving your SOAR process, which will result in the submission of quality SOAR applications!

SOAR Job Postings


The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) is hiring a full-time Veteran SOAR Representative to support, implement, and assist in framing the MDVA's new Veteran SOAR Program.
Learn more about this posting on the SOARWorks website. Do you have a job posting you would like to share with the SOAR community? Submit it to the SOAR TA Center!

Funding Corner: 4 Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits Implementing SOAR!

Remembering that it is important to always be looking ahead and working towards a diversified funding base for your SOAR activities, join us by making an Organizational New Year's Resolution to try one of these fun and interesting fundraising ideas this coming year! With the "Season of Lists" upon us, we wanted to take a few moments to share a quick list of ideas you can use to raise funds for your SOAR activities!

1. Channel Your Inner Master Chef

Round up supporters and foodies for a competition where contestants create their best dishes with a specific ingredient and people pay to taste and cast their votes.

2. Nearly New Sale

Collect your team's gently worn, barely used clothing or household goods and host a weekend sale or auction. Take pictures of the items beforehand and post them on social media networks to generate buzz around your event.

3. Scavenger Hunt

Organize a scavenger hunt and send participants all around town. Charge a registration fee and offer extra tips and hints for different donation amounts.

4. Film Fundraising

Host a film festival and have participants enter their own unique productions. You can even turn it into a contest, where attendees can give $5 in order to cast votes for their favorite films.
Check out Salsa's Top 60 Event Fundraising Ideas for more inspiration! 
"'Intercept 0' has been the hidden hero here in Pima County for a number of years," Kate Lawson told SAMHSA's GAINS Center staff during a recent discussion of crisis and pre-crisis services in Pima County (Tucson), Arizona, where she works for the county attorney's office. In early 2016, Ms. Lawson participated as part of a team in a Sequential Intercept Mapping (SIM) exercise facilitated by the GAINS Center. For years, the SIM process has helped members of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities work with behavioral health professionals to identify points for diversion, treatment, or both for people with mental or substance use disorders who come in contact with the criminal justice system. Read the full Intercept 0 article.

ARDRAW Small Grant Announcement

Applications for research stipends due: March 2, 2017
SSA is granting graduate students $10,000 stipends to research work, rehabilitation, and disability issues through the Analyzing Relationships between Disability, Rehabilitation, and Work (ARDRAW) Small Grant Program. The objective of the ARDRAW Small Grant Program is to foster new analysis of work, rehabilitation, and disability issues, which may develop innovative and fresh perspectives on disability, by providing research stipends to a broad spectrum of graduate students.

The Supportive Housing Self-Assessment Tool

The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) in Los Angeles, with the help of The Urban Institute, is in the beta-testing stage of testing a new tool to assess its usefulness in measuring the organizations' permanent supportive housing capacity. To complete the tool, The Urban Institute and CSH need many organizations involved with supportive housing or that are interested in becoming involved with it, either as developers, scattered-site housing placement agencies, property managers, or service providers. They will analyze the results to see how the tool functions and get a sense of "average" scoring.
If you would like to learn more or if you are interested in using the tool to assess your organization's capacity or the capacity of your partner organizations, please email Jasmine Simington ( She will provide you with a customized link to view the tool in Qualtrics and instructions on how to provide access to organizations in your region so that they can complete the tool.

Recent Stories from the SOAR Voices Blog

The SOAR Leadership Academy: An Attendee's Perspective
Visiting Skid Row
In December 2016, SSA launched a new service for my Social Security account holders where the public can check on the status of an application for benefits or an appeal. The service will provide detailed information about retirement, disability, survivors, Medicare, and Supplemental Security Income claims and appeals filed either online at or with a Social Security employee.

Reopened SSA Request for Information: Strategies for Improving Work Outcomes for Individuals with Musculoskeletal Disabilities

New deadline: January 11, 2017
SSA has reopened the comment period for the request for Information on Strategies for Improving Work Outcomes for Individuals with Musculoskeletal Disabilities. This request seeks public input on possible demonstration projects designed to improve employment and earnings outcomes for individuals with musculoskeletal impairments. The input SSA receives will inform the deliberations about the possible design of a future demonstration project.

SAMHSA Blog: Finding a Path Out of Homelessness

A recent SAMHSA blog describes the impact of SAMHSA's efforts to end homelessness and highlights the work of the SOAR approach. From the blog: "As a part of Cathy's recovery plan she received a variety of services to help her stabilize. She met with a caseworker who specialized in SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR). SOAR is a SAMHSA program for adults who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a mental illness, medical impairment, co-occurring substance use disorder, or a combination of conditions."

VA Announces Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program Funding Opportunity

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is announcing the availability of funds for supportive services grants under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. Awards made for supportive services grants will fund operations beginning October 1, 2017. Applications for supportive services grants must be received by February 3, 2017.

SSVF FY 2015 Annual Report

This report covers the fourth grant period for the VA SSVF program and includes awards made in 2014 for the FY 2015 period. The report includes information about SSVF and SOAR! From the report: "Recognizing the value of the SOAR Initiative, VA initiated an effort to encourage SSVF grantees to complete SOAR training classes. As of September 2015, more than half of SSVF grantees were using the SOAR model, with 14 percent of grantees having an SSVF-funded dedicated SOAR benefits specialist."
The SOAR TA Center is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Disclaimer: The SOAR Technical Assistance Center is sending this NewsFlash with support from SAMHSA, HHS. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of HHS or SAMHSA.