About Us

Our vision
Communities embrace youth facing homelessness, prioritizing their deep human need for connection and belonging.

Our mission
We catalyze system change for youth facing homelessness by championing lasting relationships with the caring adults already in their lives who are not their service providers. We develop strategies to fortify these life-giving connections and advocate for investing in their transformative power.

Our service offerings

  • Board and staff education
    Present customized interactive training programs for community groups, nonprofit boards, and government and social service staff:

    • In their own voices: Understanding the unmet needs of couch hopping youth and their adult hosts
    • Why “natural supports” hold the key to addressing youth homelessness
    • Nuts and bolts: How to facilitate “permanent connections,” including facilitating “shared expectations agreements” between youth and their informal hosts
    • Best practices for host homes
    • Cross-pollination: What the youth homelessness field can learn from innovations in child welfare and mentoring
  • Meeting facilitation
    Facilitate stakeholder convenings to prioritize permanent connections
  • Program consulting
    Review current practices, develop program protocols and performance outcomes, and guide government entities and youth homelessness agencies in system change to prioritize permanent connections
  • Storytelling
    Create compelling case studies, opinion editorials, and public information campaigns that highlight the resiliency of youth facing homelessness and the innovative strategies that are prioritizing connection and belonging

Our board
Craig Cox, deputy editor, Experience Life magazine (board chair)
Jerry Lane, executive director (retired), Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance
Aaron Zimmerman, director of development, PFund Foundation

Our advisory board
K. Adam, Principal Consultant, Umoja Collective
Iris Castro, business and social work student, St Catherine University
Kelly Drummer, president and CEO, MIGIZI
Steven G. Thomas, president and CEO, The Next Frontier

Jacqueline White_headshot.jpg

Our director Jacqueline White
In 1998, Jacqueline White and her former partner became the first hosts in the Twin Cities GLBT Host Home program, in which young people in need of housing choose to live with trained community volunteers who provide a room in their home and a caring presence. Jacqueline later adopted Amy, the young woman they had hosted. Read about her experience as a host and adoptive mother here. A white woman, Jacqueline has been a volunteer racial justice facilitator with the YWCA and the former editor of Assets magazine published by Search Institute, the international research pioneers on youth resiliency.

Our history
CloseKnit began in 2014 as the Minnesota Host Home Network, a special project of the Minnesota Council of Child Caring Agencies Foundation (now AspireMN). We changed our name in 2019.

We invite your involvement!
CloseKnit invites community volunteers and social service staff from across the state to join us for our quarterly Huddles. We gather for networking, group problem-solving, and training. The Huddles also serve as a confidential forum to help us shape our research agenda. Past participants have hailed from tribal nations, and rural, suburban, and urban locales. We’re here to support your community effort to address youth homelessness. Please contact Jacqueline at jw@closeknit.us if you would like to participate!