Volume 1, Issue 5                                                         July 2015
In This Issue


Executive Profile: Amy Lerlie 

Congressman Upton co-sponsors CSBG

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MCA's Mission
To serve member agencies  and strengthen their capacity to alleviate the causes and circumstances of poverty.

July 11-15

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging Annual Conference & Tradeshow


June 28-30

MCA Summer Conference 

sidestory2Director of Michigan Department of Civil Rights to speak at Summer Conference
We're  happy to announce that Matthew J. Wesaw, director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights will be our lunch speaker on Wednesday, July 29 at the MCA Summer Conference. Director Wesaw has a long career in public service as a Michigan State Trooper and as a member of many tribal and human services agencies. He will address the need for a strong civil rights infrastructure as a means to create a more equitable and just society.

We are preparing a comprehensive agenda to make the Summer Conference at Shanty Creek Resort July 28-30 the biggest professional development event of the year.

Among the featured topics:

  • Organizational standards
  • ROMA
  • FACSPro
  • Regional collaboration
  • Model programs
  • Early childhood development
  • Self-sufficiency programs
  • Senior services

See the latest conference draft agenda here.


To register, please click on the link below.  

Upton co-sponsors reauthorization of CSBG
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) signed on to co-sponsor HR 1655, which would reauthorize the poverty-fighting Community Services Block Grant Act until fiscal year 2023.


The CSBG is a federal anti-poverty block grant that funds the operations of a state-administered network of local agencies, including Community Action Agencies. The funding helps to reduce poverty, revitalize low-income communities and empower low-income families to become self-sufficient.


Upton is the third member of Michigan's congressional delegation to cosponsor the bill to date, along with Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Detroit) and Rep. Sander Levin (D-Royal Oak).


The bill was introduced on March 26, and is currently awaiting decision in the House.


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MCA member agencies to serve as foreclosure prevention sites



Four MCA member agencies will act as host sites for the Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps (MFPC), an AmeriCorps program focused on providing counseling to homeowners on the verge of or in foreclosure.

Community Action Agency of Jackson, Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency, Northwest Michigan CAA and Wayne Metropolitan CAA will help homeowners as they try to avoid or work through foreclosure.  The four agencies also served as sites the previous year.

"The changing face of foreclosure is now including individuals who have never faced financial difficulties in their adult lives," says Kate Lambert Lee, MFPC alum of Community Action Agency of Jackson. "Learning to not only help but empower without judgment was one of the greatest challenges."

MFPC, now in its sixth program year, offers foreclosure prevention and intervention services, including intake and triage, marketing and outreach, education and tracking/mitigating neighborhood impacts of foreclosure. Members are responsible for recruiting and managing volunteers, actively participating in building the capacity of the host agency and ensuring that each client with whom they interact has a better understanding of the foreclosure process.


Executive Profile
AMCAB inspires collaboration in Alger, Marquette counties


Amy Lerlie says the most effective way to help transform a single neighborhood or even an entire community is a "grassroots, roll-up-your-sleeves approach."  The executive director of Alger-Marquette Community Action Board (AMCAB) points to a neighborhood in the historic mining town of Ishpeming.   


The transformation began with a group of senior citizens talking over coffee about how to turn things around in their neighborhood.  It became the "Inspiration Zone."


Lerlie chairs the Ishpeming Neighborhood Improvement Committee (NIC), a collaboration with the school system, businesses, local police, the city and the county. Ishpeming NIC's goal is to revitalize Ishpeming's neighborhoods and build a greater sense of community.   AMCAB works to remove barriers and identify funding streams. 


"We serve as facilitators - bringing people and resources together to effect change," Lerlie explains.  Early in the process, the Marquette County Land Bank Authority purchased two foreclosed properties.  The city is tearing them down.  A new affordable housing development will open early this fall. 


"This grassroots group came together and now the Inspiration Zone has become a communitywide project." 


A Marquette native, Lerlie came to AMCAB from the affordable housing industry, which served her well when she arrived at AMCAB in 2011 to become its housing services director.  She became the executive director in January.  While the combined population of Alger and Marquette counties population is relatively small - 75,000 people - it's a huge area geographically.  Lerlie notes that Marquette is the largest county east of the Mississippi.


"I have a passion for our communities," she says. "I have a personal desire to help people here, because this is my community."


She lists several challenges facing the region, including housing foreclosures, food insecurity and homelessness.


"Certainly we are seeing more folks approaching age 65 who come to us for broad-based services," she explains.  "We've seen a need for more commodity foods; food pantries are struggling to keep up.  We're not sure of all the reasons, but it seems like people are simply unable to meet the costs of living."


This month, AMCAB celebrates its 50th anniversary.  The milestone proves its "staying power," Lerlie says. "We have developed and implemented strategies to ensure our strength, which in turn means we can continue responding to the community needs now, and in the future."   

EPA requests feedback on environmental screening tool



In order to better understand populations in need of increased environmental protection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released EJSCREEN, an environmental justice screening and mapping tool.


EJSCREEN uses high-resolution maps combined with demographic and environmental data to identify places with potentially elevated environmental burdens and vulnerable populations.  It can help governments, academic institutions, local communities and other stakeholders highlight communities with greater risk of exposure to pollution based on pollution and environmental indicators.


The tool's capabilities could provide support for educational programs, grant writing and community awareness efforts so that users can participate meaningfully in decision-making processes that impact their health and environment.


The recent release of EJSCREEN initiates a stakeholder engagement period over the next six months.  EPA will collect feedback on the datasets and design of the tool, as well as how it could be further enhanced, and will release a revised version in 2016.


To access the tool, click here. 

Deadline for home heating tax credit 
is September 30

Low-income homeowners can get about $140 toward utility bills if they file for a home heating credit before September 30.


The credit is designed to provide assistance to low-income residents or veterans with disabilities, including those who are hearing or sight impaired. Michigan residents who are not in these groups may also qualify for the credit. It can be for either renters or homeowners, and helps participants avoid energy bill debt.


The deadline for filing the form is September 30.


For more information, click here.