Message from Executive Director -    Joe Diamond  
Welcome to the first edition of Spotlight on Opportunity!

Spotlight on Opportunity is part of a multi-faceted communications approach which also includes our new website, the MASSCAP Training Center newsletter, social media presence (Twitter/Facebook), and an online annual report (coming soon).
We hope to shed light on the opportunities that Community Action Agencies (CAAs) help the people we serve to access, and to offer a glimpse into the hope, pride, persistence, and hard work that is so much a part of their lives.   We also look forward to highlighting stories about the programs our agencies offer and the dedicated Community Action staff who change lives every day.  We will share updates on our local collaborations, partnerships, collective impact initiatives, and information about national, regional, and state research and studies about poverty and opportunity.  And...we will detail how MASSCAP seeks to empower the 23 Community Action Agencies operating in the state - federally mandated antipoverty agencies that serve over 600,000 people in virtually every city and town.

Thank you for your attention and support.

  Joe Diamond
In This Issue
About Community Action: May is Community Action Month

Community Action changes people's lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities and makes America a better place to live. 

The "Community Action Program" was originally established in 1964 by Congress as a centerpiece of the War on Poverty. The goal of the program, which is now part of the Community Services Block Grant, is to reduce poverty, revitalize low-income communities, and empower low-income individuals and families to become fully self-sufficient.

In MA, we are a network of 23 locally run independent nonprofit Community Action Agencies (CAAs) with more than 200 sites serving more than 600,000 residents.  
Our Public Policy Priorities
Our public policy priorities support the shared goal of the state's 23 community action agencies to help our vulnerable friends and neighbors who are living with low incomes - over 600,000 per year in virtually every city and town - to stabilize their lives and achieve economic mobility. 
  1. Strengthening Families through Affordable and Accessible Early Education & Care by increasing early ed teacher salaries and increasing support for Head Start
  2. Bridging the Wage Gap by supporting the work of free tax preparation sites (VITA)
  3. Creating a Foundation for Economic Opportunity by support the low income fuel assistance program
  4. Strengthening the Human Services Infrastructure by supporting the work of CAAs and allowing them to respond to community needs
VITA Offers Impressive Results
"Instead of having to pay to get my taxes done, I was able to get them done for free.  Not everyone has that opportunity. Getting everything from my return helps to save money, which is important when you're struggling."   
--Tianna, Worcester Community Action Council Client

The $5,300 return she received this tax season was promptly deposited in the bank.  She is saving up for a car and other needs for her young daughter. Click here for Tianna's story.

As part of the Healthy Families EITC Coalition, MASSCAP supports a budget initiative to help free tax preparation for low-income tax payers at Community Action Agencies and other organizations across MA.

At VITA sites, volunteers not only provide free tax prep and access to the EITC and other tax credits to low-income tax payers allowing them to pay bills, cover essential needs and save, but also link them to other critical services strengthening families and the local economy.
  • +30,000 served at 80 sites - more than 1/2 at CAAs
  • + $60 M returned to tax payers in tax creidts - more than $30M through CAAs
  • ROI is 60:1
  • Approximately $1.44 in economic activity generated per $1 accessed
  • 1,224 Volunteers donate +48,000 hours and +$2.4 M in services
MASSCAP Training Center (MTC) Update

Since its inception in June 2015, the MTC has trained 1,052 Community Action and other human services staff and board members through onsite and online training sessions.  In addition, the MTC reaches many more through recorded presentations and learning resources. 

MTC sessions focus on a broad range of topics relevant to non-profit organizational management and operations and anti-poverty programs and services. Trainings are often focused on the nine key CSBG Organizational Standards categories in which Community Action Agencies across the country are annually assessed. These categories, encompassing 58 individual standards of excellence, are: 
  1. Consumer input and involvement
  2. Community engagement
  3. Community assessment
  4. Organizational leadership
  5. Board governance 
  6. Strategic planning
  7. Human resource management
  8. Financial operations and oversight
  9. Data and analysis
The MTC works with the MASSCAP network and with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to understand where targeted training and support would aid agencies in meeting these standards, ensuring that the Commonwealth's CAA network continues to improve and lead the nation.  

Celebrating Pat Daly and her impact in Community Action
Executive Director, South Shore Community Action Council

After 23 years at the helm of South Shore Community Action Council (SSCAC), Patricia Daly  is retiring in June.  In that time - and even before as SSCAC's Head Start director - she has dedicated her life to Community Action.  She will be missed on many levels by many people including the SSCAC board and staff, her colleagues in the MASSCAP network, the people the agency serves, and as a leader in the greater Plymouth community.

"Pat is the full package...inspiring, comforting and so solid.  Everything about the organization is disciplined and organized.  She manages her team effortlessly and people develop under her leadership.  She is always bringing new ideas to the board about ways to grow the organization and expand the reach to those in need.  I am continuously amazed and inspired by her. We hope to continue to benefit from her expertise and advice."
--Martha Dennison, SSCAC Board Member
Find your Community Action Agency
There are 23 Community Action Agencies in Massachusetts serving virtually every city and town in the state.

To locate the agency in your area and learn more about the programs they offer, click here.