Key Points

· Social networks are critical to physical and mental health, and they shape how people see themselves and their possible futures.

· Social networks represent an under-leveraged resource in social services’ efforts to alleviate poverty and other social challenges.

· Foundations may be unintentionally creating barriers to practice that leverages social networks by incentivizing individually-focused, highly specific services delivered in standardized, replicable ways.

· “Network-oriented” practice can help craft a new way forward that threads the needle between everything-is-different-for-everyone and everything- is-the-same-for-everyone.

· By focusing funding on efforts that build and support social networks, foundations can deepen and sustain the impact of their funding.

Open Access