Promoting Progress on Homelessness

Creating an immersive storytelling journey for Building Changes to reveal the myths of homelessness
Building Changes
"Intentional Futures helped us frame the story we wanted to tell and delivered a compelling visual and immersive experience that resonated with our audiences, allowing us to further establish Building Changes as a statewide authority on family and youth homelessness." –Helen Howell, Executive Director, Building Changes


After a decade of testing various approaches to address family and youth homelessness across Washington state, nonprofit organization Building Changes was eager to share what they learned with a wider audience. Part of this effort would be a convening for policymakers, philanthropists, and the media to highlight findings from their research and help advance regional solutions to homelessness.

With such a diverse audience, Building Changes knew how important it was for the data to tell an accessible story with clear takeaways that attendees could use to inform their own work. They asked Intentional Futures to design the full experience of the convening: reimagine existing content, create a visual identity, and design and build the physical exhibits.

We called the event Promote Progress and for one impactful day, attendees gained new insights about family and student homelessness in an experience that combined a self-guided learning tour with the curated messaging of a keynote presentation.

Participants learned about the state of homelessness in a designed space
Journey maps helped us plan visitor flow through the room
3D installations brought stats to life
Installations are portable so that the exhibit can travel

Experiential design

Prior research by Building Changes revealed effective homelessness response strategies that could drive successful outcomes. However, we knew that convening attendees would come with varying degrees of familiarity with the issues surrounding homelessness. Our goal was to offer context for the data and develop a basic understanding of the dynamics of the homeless system.

We worked with Building Changes to create a learning journey that would familiarize the audience with the common pathways to homelessness and the current experience of people navigating the homeless system in Washington.

The convening location, the Panoramic Room at the Pacific Tower in Seattle, provided its own inspiration. For its sweeping city views and high ceilings, we designed towering 12-foot panels featuring powerful data visualizations that played with scale and materials to keep the audience engaged.

Quotes from interviews with people experiencing homelessness and representative personal objects like moving boxes, suitcases, school desks, and backpacks accompanied visitors on their tour of the space. Seeing piles of belongings out of place helped to personalize the experience, taking it from an abstract data problem to a human one.

On the day of the event, over a hundred policymakers, philanthropists and members of the media from across the state browsed through exhibits on the state of family and student homelessness in Washington. Staff docents were on hand to answer questions and provide additional context for stories depicted in the exhibits. Building Changes then hosted a keynote panel discussion to share data and reflections from providers about three promising examples of their work: Diversion, Housing and Employment Navigator, and Prevention.

Participants tested their own knowledge with a few different activities.


At the Promote Progress event, Building Changes exposed a new audience to their innovative and data-driven approaches to solving homelessness. Walking through a visually arresting space that highlighted local data and stories enhanced the audience’s understanding of the issues facing the homeless system in Washington, and clearly communicated that the strategies Building Changes has found effective could help address those challenges. We are excited to see how this message will help shape local government and philanthropic funding in the coming years to better address a pressing issue for our local community.

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