From Home Screens to Foster Homes

Jerome Strickland Commentary

From Home Screens to Foster Homes

In the time it takes you to read this, you could have been served hundreds of targeted online advertisements. Look at a shirt too long, and suddenly an ad magically appears in your inbox. Welcome to behavior-based targeted advertising. 

Powered by staggering new technologies, ads are constantly being served to us. says the average American is exposed to 4,000-10,000 ads per day. As a result, more companies are adopting intelligent digital advertising tools to reach their intended audience. 

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Nonprofits can use those same tools to reach people who connect with their mission, delivering effective, curated ads to connect potential donors, volunteers and advocates with opportunities to support a foster care network in our state. 

Let me introduce you to The Contingent, a venture nonprofit focused on empowering leaders and mobilizing communities to tackle the largest issues in our country. The Contingent created and commands an interdependent ecosystem of technology, continuous research, elevated customer experience and strategic marketing to create a personalized digital experience that breaks through clutter and mobilizes communities.  

Does it work? For five years, The Contingent targeted one issue, child welfare in Oregon. The outcomes were record-breaking and garnered national attention:

► 8,200 new foster and adoption care inquiries, 

► 1,570 foster homes certified,

► 32,000 new volunteers, and

► $1.5 million contributed to child welfare initiatives.

The Contingent has recently launched a similar effort in Arkansas with the support of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the Division of Children & Family Services. Every Child Arkansas (ECA) is a network of advocates, state agencies, faith-based organizations and others working to fill the gaps in caring for children and families before, during and beyond foster care.

As part of the network, The Contingent shares how Arkansans can create healthier communities. Arkansas’ entrenched nonprofit support has the potential to provide “more than enough” for children and families affected by the foster care system. We believe the infrastructure is in place to change outcomes.

In strategically planning for Arkansas, we have considered:

► How people experience their everyday lives in their communities, 

► How technology might impact change in new ways,

► What messaging will help meet people where they are, 

► What radical hospitality looks like for community members and how to implement it, and

► How we can take a data-driven approach to the problem and solution. 

What makes ECA and The Contingent’s work so innovative? It’s taking enterprise business technology, optimizing it for social deployment and applying it to a nationwide, hurting foster care system.

Some people have concerns about targeted advertising, but my response is always the same — the technology is as common as the concrete we walk on, so why not use it to produce positive societal change? 

The technology and marketing strategies we employ through Every Child Arkansas connect the need with the resource children and families need most: you. As we engage online, we will compete with the big brands’ messaging to ensure that positive community change is available at the click of a button. 

It should be easy for Arkansans to support children and families. The plethora of organizations doing good work creates an environment where no matter where you live, we have a way for people to get involved.

Want to volunteer? We have opportunities in your ZIP code. Are you considering becoming a foster parent? We will connect you. All you have to do is visit For those not reading this article, we’ll find them online and make the same ask in the smartest way possible, because we are all in this together. 

Jerome Strickland is the executive director of The Contingent Arkansas.