Network Connection
July 2019
Hello Community Action Network, and Happy Fourth of July!
We are officially in the dog days of summer and when there are extreme temperatures during the year—either hot or cold—I often think of the far too many families, seniors, and persons living with disabilities who are disproportionately impacted by severe temperatures. I then consider how vitally important LIHEAP and Weatherization services are for households who struggle to keep their utilities connected and who just can’t afford to make their homes more energy efficient.

Yet, I can’t even count how many times I’ve been part of a conversation within Community Action that involves the sometimes-harsh opinion that we don’t need to be providing this assistance any longer. People both inside and outside our Network protest the program because “we can’t effect long term change or see positive results in households or communities by providing utility assistance.” While I can agree with that declaration and have questioned the effectiveness of LIHEAP and other forms of emergency energy assistance myself, I don’t believe that statement serves to establish those programs as unnecessary or antiquated. Plain and simple, home energy assistance provided throughout the Community Action Network, in all forms, saves lives, thereby changing lives.

But how many lives in the last 50-plus years have been changed and/or saved with a relatively small payment to the energy provider on our customers’ behalves?  I think this is the question we need to start asking and answering of ourselves. Anecdotally, we could likely provide hundreds, if not thousands, of stories supporting the belief that we do save lives with energy assistance, but more often than not we just don’t present it that way. I rarely hear data on LIHEAP in any set other than numbers served, average benefit amount, or total dollars disbursed. We as a national network have been talking so much in the last several years about the need to reframe the way we speak publicly about anti-poverty programs and the necessity of doing so in order to gain support at all levels for what Community Action does. I agree, it’s time to talk about our work from a different frame of mind. 

So today, if you’re not already doing this, I’m challenging you to tell your agency’s and your participants' stories in ways that can truly reach an audience who may not want to understand but will be able to relate and understand your impact once you have begun using new language to identify who benefits from our services (families and communities), how what you do changes and saves lives, and what all you do on a continuum to help a family move from poverty to greater financial independence. Reframing how we present information to stakeholders and the public in general takes some time but thankfully, we have an in-house expert right here at Missouri CAN who can help train your agency’s leaders on messaging and speaking about your agency’s work. Jessica Hoey offered a workshop earlier this year on Messaging and Reframing and how that also translates into advocacy work. It got rave reviews from those who were able to attend. 

We hope to reach more of our Missouri Community Action Network staff with this amazing information so that when naysayers start calling utility and Weatherization services a band aid, instead of nodding our heads, we can proudly call it what it is—lifesaving. Please reach out to us if you would like to begin this process with our assistance. Let’s start telling more impactful stories together. It is time!  

In Community,  
Dawna Fogarty
Executive Director, Missouri CAN
Advocacy - A voice for low-income Missourians
The Missouri Network Acts Against Proposed Changes
Used to Calculate Official Poverty Measure

On June 20, the Missouri Community Action Network submitted comments to the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about the measures used to calculate the federal poverty line. These measures involve annual inflation adjustments, which can have a significant impact on the way poverty is calculated throughout the United States. The proposal would tie the rate of inflation used to adjust the poverty measure each year to one that is lower than the current method of calculation. While the adjustment would not be very noticeable in the short-term, over time this change could reduce or eliminate key safety net assistance for millions around the country.

By shrinking the poverty line over time, the current administration is proposing to reduce the number of people who qualify for health care, nutrition, and other critical aid. This change could affect Missourians who need Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, school meals, LIHEAP, and multiple other programs – many of the people your agencies work with every single day.

TalkPoverty offers a brief overview of the situation that is helpful to understanding exactly what the administration has proposed.  Read the TalkPoverty article and learn more about the inflationary measure known as the chained Consumer Price Index. For a deeper dive, check out the  Poverty Line Proposal FAQ compiled by the Coalition on Human Needs, along with their  Poverty Line Proposal Campaign Page .

You can read the letter Missouri CAN submitted on behalf of the state’s 19 Community Action Agencies  here . If your agency submitted its own comments, please forward them to  Jessica Hoey , Missouri CAN Director of Public Affairs and Community Engagement. Thank you for coming together as a Network to raise your voices against this proposal, which would be detrimental to thousands of Missourians if enacted. 
Network Capacity - Helping you help others
2020 Census: Let's Help Make Everyone Count

You’ve likely been hearing all about the upcoming Census every time you turn around! That’s because the  Decennial Census is used to:

  • Apportion representation among states.
  • Draw congressional and state legislative districts, school districts, and voting precincts.
  • Distribute federal dollars to states.
  • Inform government planning decisions at the federal, tribal, state, and local level.
  • Inform organizational decisions (e.g., where to locate, size of market, etc.) of businesses and non-profits.
  • Enforce voting rights and civil rights legislation.

The National Community Action Partnership has received funding to: educate and increase awareness of the Census throughout our national Community Action network; activate and mobilize the network to take action; curate and generate Census resources specific to Community Action; and equip agencies to conduct effective local outreach efforts. You can  find Census information and resources on the Partnership website.

One key strategy the Partnership will use is its new Nationwide Complete Count Committee. The Partnership is asking every Community Action Agency in the country to nominate one person on staff to serve as your agency's key contact on Census news, outreach, and information to help ensure a coordinated national response.
The Partnership is offering a range of free training, tools, and assistance to make it both easy and effective for your agency to actively help ensure that every person in America is counted. Please fill out  this 2 minute form , or email your agency's nominee name and email address to:  lporis@communityactionpartnership.com .

Missouri CAN Has Moved to a 4-Day Work Week
As many industries are turning to four working days in lieu of five, so too have Community Action agencies and associations around the country and now Missouri CAN is following suit.

As of Monday, June 24, 2019, the Missouri Community Action Network hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Regardless of this change, our commitment to excellent member and customer service continues. Missouri CAN staff will remain available on Fridays to respond to MIS helpdesk tickets, program-related Poverty Simulation inquiries, and general public affairs issues or requests.

If you have any questions about this change, please don't hesitate to  email our office or call us at (573) 634-2969. We look forward to continuing our work with you!

SAVE THE DATE! Poverty Simulation Facilitator Training Opportunity

October 21-22, 2019 - Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel, St. Louis, MO
Come experience the Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) as a participant, plus learn tips and tricks to conduct a successful simulation. Registration will open in mid-August.

Early-bird registration for this event is $370. For every two attendees your organization registers, you can get the third registration half off. That's only $185 for your third registrant! If you are a current employee of a Missouri Community Action Agency, there will be no cost for this training if you register before the early-bird deadline.

More information to come!
Missouri CAN Capacity - Helping us help you
Nominate Your Missouri CAN MVP!

The Missouri Community Action Network holds the deepest respect and admiration for the work its members do. However, we also know there are those who go above and beyond, who give more than they’re asked. These individuals truly embody the spirit of Community Action.  

We want to celebrate those Network members who go the extra mile to serve their clients, agencies, and communities, the ones who continually ask themselves: what more can I do . If you know of someone who fits this description, nominate them as the next Missouri CAN MVP!

They’ll be recognized in our Network Quarterly publication, which is distributed to more than 1,000 Missouri CAN members. We’ll also feature them on our website and social media. Plus, MVPs get an official Missouri CAN coffee mug. 

Visit  www.missourican.org/mvp and fill out and submit the online form to nominate the next Missouri CAN MVP.

If you have any questions, contact Missouri CAN’s Membership Coordinator, Daniel Klote, at  dklote@communityaction.org or by phone at (573) 634-2969, ext. 33.  
Members Receive a 10% Tuition Discount at Columbia College

Community Action staff know the difference education can make in one’s life. You’ve seen how it empowers individuals to succeed by giving them the knowledge and tools to excel in their careers, and how it enriches lives by encouraging continued learning. 

The Missouri Community Action Network is committed to providing those same opportunities for professional development and personal growth to its members. That’s why Missouri CAN has partnered with Columbia College to offer members a 10% tuition discount. Earn your degree, develop new skills, or advance in your career. 

Columbia College, an accredited, private, nonprofit college that serves more than 20,000 students a year, offers flexible evening and online classes. Fit courses around your schedule. Go at your own pace. Six sessions a year can put you on an accelerated path to graduation.

Not near a Columbia College location? Earn a degree completely online in several majors, including business, human services, education, and computer science. 

To receive 10% off your tuition, apply online for free and then send an email from your agency email account to  financialaid@ccis.edu requesting the 10% tuition discount. For more information  click here

Registration for the Early Fall Session begins Monday, July 8, 2019. Apply for free online by visiting  www.ccis.edu .

Questions about membership benefits? Contact Membership Coordinator, Daniel Klote, at  dklote@communityaction.org or call (573) 634-2969, ext. 33.
Upcoming Events for Missouri Community Action Network
Recent Agency Visits
Chad Courter visited MOCA on June 5 to meet with the CSBG department and learned how they use MIS for tracking their Life Skills classes. While visiting the agency, he helped set up the agency's Disaster Relief Program.

Brian Valentine and Mary Mullins conducted ROMA Training at CAAGKC on June 20.

Jessica Hoey visited JFCAC on June 17 for the agency’s 2nd Annual Advocacy BBQ, which proved to be a great opportunity to network with other human service providers and state and local government officials.

Brian Valentine provided ROMA Training, and Andrea Davis delivered Stress Management and Customer Service Training for CAPNCM staff on June 27.
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