With New Partners, MN's Poverty-Fighting Offices Expand Financial Reach
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
May is Community Action Month, and Minnesota agencies that help address poverty say demand for services isn't going away. To help clients thrive, they're adding some new parts to their revenue engines.
Community Action Agencies create and help carry out programs that assist struggling households in accessing aid such as energy bill relief, tax preparation and job training.
Kendra Krolik, chief strategy officer with Community Action Partnership of Hennepin County, said state and federal grants make up a big portion of their funding.
She said it certainly helps, but offices such as hers are now expanding their outreach to corporations and foundations to meet current demand.
"With the eviction moratoriums lifting," said Krolik, "we've just seen a big increase in the number of folks who are looking for assistance with their monthly rent payments, with security deposits."
And in the past year, the office saw a 10% increase in energy assistance applications.
Krolik said private partnerships not only allow them to close gaps for those in a crisis but also enhance long-term self-sufficiency programs.
Offices around the state embracing this approach say it gives them more room for discretionary spending based on client needs within their regions.
While community action agencies are diversifying their revenue streams, they did receive an extra $5 million in the new state budget. That additional public support falls under the scope of grant guidelines to which offices have to adhere to.
But Krolik said it's another positive step in establishing financial wiggle room and that collectively, they have more tools to work with in putting a dent in poverty.
"If we have funding that is flexible, that isn't tied to one specific program," said Krolik, "then that just allows us to be more nimble in providing the kind of support that our residents in Hennepin County need."
A corporate partnership with the Hennepin County community action agency provides financial incentives for clients to attend educational workshops.
Clients can use the money for things such as transportation or child-care needs to be able to show up to these events.
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